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."
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.
For example, in 2014, Essentia Health in Minnesota received a DLT grant award of $213,564 to expand Essentia’s existing telemedicine network to 21 clinics and two hospitals. This expansion project is expected to benefit more than 300,000 people across Minnesota, North Dakota, and Wisconsin.
“Delivering these programs to rural communities that often do not have access to quality, affordable medical and educational services has tremendous economic and social benefits,” said USDA Rural Development State Director for Minnesota, Colleen Landkamer. “This expansion project in particular will allow people who live and work in these rural communities to decrease travel time and distance for specialized health care services.”
Details of the DLT funding are on Page 29602 of the May 22 Federal Register. The application deadline is July 6, 2015.
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.