U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Dot gov

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.


Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock () or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

USDA Invests $5.8 Million to Improve Access to Telemedicine, Distance Learning in Rural Ohio

Nikki Gillespie
Release Date

Investments will benefit nearly 21,200 people in rural Ohio

COLUMBUS, Ohio, Jan. 4, 2024 – United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development State Director Jonathan McCracken today announced nearly $5.8 million in investments to expand telemedicine and distance learning opportunities for nearly 21,300 people in rural Ohio.

“USDA has long been committed to assisting rural communities with infrastructure improvements, including access to high-speed internet,” McCracken said. “The Distance Learning Telemedicine grant program helps to bridge the ‘digital divide’ in rural areas by expanding the availability of telemedicine and digital learning for our hospitals and schools. These federal investments will ensure that the people and communities of rural Ohio have access to the technology they need to thrive.”  

Examples of today’s investments:

  • Hocking Valley Community Hospital Foundation will use a $251,000 grant to help equip two hub sites and eight end-user sites throughout Hocking County with telehealth equipment for primary health care. This will help the medical professionals expand access to new health care services by bringing telehealth options to underserved areas. An estimated 3,500 rural residents will benefit from this enhanced access to telemedicine.
  • Morgan Local School District will use a $693,000 grant to expand educational opportunities at five locations in Morgan County. Instructors will be able to provide virtual field trips, connection to college course providers, multimedia rich activities and mental health assistance through new interactive display panels and Poly classroom-sized webcams. Approximately 3,000 students will benefit from the new technology.
  • A $225,000 grant will be used to help Community Memorial Hospital install telemedicine equipment in Defiance County as well as three satellite clinics in Edgerton and Antwerp, Ohio and Harlan, Indiana. This equipment will help expand psychiatry and other services with Parkview Behavioral Health in Fort Wayne, Indiana, as well as cardiology, neurology, and other specialty services with OSU Wexner Medical Center in Columbus, Ohio. More than 1,400 rural residents will benefit from these expanded services.
  • West Liberty Salem Local School District will use an $860,000 grant to expand science, technology, engineering, math, college credit plus and technical education courses by installing distance learning equipment at sites throughout Logan, Miami, Champaign Counties. Nearly 1,600 students are to benefit from these services.

For a complete listing of today’s investments, visit: https://www.rd.usda.gov/media/file/download/oh-dltawards2023.xls.

Background: Distance Learning and Telemedicine Grants

Today’s awards are being funded through USDA’s Distance Learning and Telemedicine (DLT) program. This competitive program helps rural communities use advanced telecommunications technology to connect to each other - and the world - overcoming the effects of remoteness and low population density. Applicants are encouraged to consider projects that promote equity and economic opportunity in rural America, specifically those that advance these key priorities:

  • Supporting health care needs stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic, and helping prepare for future pandemic events
  • Ensuring racial equity
  • Rebuilding our rural economy
  • Addressing the climate crisis

To be eligible, the project must serve a rural area with a population of 20,000 or fewer and applicants must in some way provide education or health care through telecommunications. Examples of eligible applicants include:

  • State and local governmental organizations
  • Federally-recognized Tribes
  • Non-profit organizations
  • Incorporated, for-profit businesses
  • Groups of eligible entities working

Funds can be used to purchase or support:

  • Audio, video, and interactive video equipment
  • Broadband facilities used for distance learning or telemedicine (up to a certain percentage)
  • Computer hardware, network components, and software
  • Instructional programming
  • Limited technical assistance and instruction on how to use distance learning and telemedicine equipment

To learn more about recently funded DLT projects, Rural Development has developed a map of recently funded DLT projects. This program is announced annually through a Notice of Solicitation for Applications. USDA will notify the public when the application window is opening for fiscal year 2024. We encourage all interested applicants to reach out to your local Rural Development office to start preliminary discussions on potential projects, as soon as possible.

All upcoming events, including informational webinars, will be posted on the events program tab of the DLT website: https://www.rd.usda.gov/programs-services/telecommunications-programs/distance-learning-telemedicine-grants#overview.  

Rural Development provides loans and grants to help expand economic opportunities, create jobs and improve the quality of life for millions of Americans in rural areas. This assistance supports infrastructure improvements; business development; housing; community facilities such as schools, public safety and health care; and high-speed internet access in rural, Tribal and high-poverty areas. For more information, visit www.rd.usda.gov.

Contact USDA Rural Development in Ohio

Information on programs available through USDA Rural Development is available by visiting www.rd.usda.gov/oh or by following @Ohio_RD on Twitter.