USDA Announces Funding Opportunity for Distance Learning and Telemedicine Projects--Nebraska Received $565,000 for Fiscal Year 2014

Vicki Schurman
Release Date
May 22, 2015

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is accepting applications for its Distance Learning and Telemedicine (DLT) grant program, which provides increased access to education, training and health care resources in rural areas.

"This program provides people who live and work in rural areas with better access to a variety of educational and health care services," Vilsack said. "For example, because of the DLT program, students in rural areas can take advanced placement classes, residents can have access to specialized medical services not typically available, and many other benefits for rural communities."

In Fiscal Year 2014, Nebraska had three recipients that received a combined $565,278 in DLT funds.

 Distance Learning recipients included:

  • Educational Service Unit (ESU) 2 in Fremont received $283,248 to improve educational opportunities for high school students and community members by offering distance education courses through an interactive videoconferencing system.
  • ESU #10 of Kearney received $126,989 to create a telecommunications infrastructure that supports distance learning for individuals residing in rural, isolated communities. Key project tenets included establishing a robust, cost-effective, reliable telecommunications infrastructure to support proposed distance learning activities; developing curriculum and classes in the areas of Elementary, Middle School and High School Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM); and increasing access to courses and curriculum not currently available at their sites.  The project also provides access to advanced placement vocational training courses in the areas of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) as well as foreign language.
  • The Telemedicine recipient was CHI Health Good Samaritan in Kearney, which received $155,041 to further expand the number of project partners and the type of services available through the Midwest Telehealth Network.

USDA's Rural Utilities Service, a Rural Development agency is making $19 million available for fiscal year 2015. The Distance Learning and Telemedicine Program finances telecommunications equipment, computer networks and advanced technologies for use by students, teachers, medical professionals and rural residents. Minimum grant amounts are $50,000; maximum amounts are $500,000 for fiscal year 2015.

Since 2009, USDA has provided more than $182 million to expand access to learning at nearly 4,700 rural educational facilities and to improve delivery of medical care at more than 2,500 rural health facilities.

Details of the DLT funding are on Page 29602 of the May 22 Federal Register. The application deadline is July 6, 2015.

For more information in Nebraska contact General Field Representative Roger Meeks at (402) 420-1467 or

President Obama's plan for rural America has brought about historic investment and resulted in stronger rural communities. Under the President's leadership, these investments in housing, community facilities, businesses and infrastructure have empowered rural America to continue leading the way - strengthening America's economy, small towns and rural communities.

USDA's investments in rural communities support the rural way of life that stands as the backbone of American values. President Obama and Agriculture Secretary Vilsack are committed to a smarter use of federal resources to foster sustainable economic prosperity and ensure the government is a strong partner for businesses, entrepreneurs and working families in rural communities.