Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development Anne Hazlett today announced that USDA is awarding grants for broadband projects to increase access to job training, educational and health care services in rural areas in 35 states.
“Broadband technology helps provide career opportunities and deliver critical medical services to rural residents,” Hazlett said. “It allows rural hospitals to better diagnose and treat patients. It helps treat people who are struggling with opioid and other substance use disorders. It also helps bring jobs to rural areas.”
USDA is awarding 72 grants totaling $23.6 million through the Distance Learning and Telemedicine (DLT) Grant Program. Of these grants, three are being awarded in Texas totaling $1.3 million. This program funds equipment that uses broadband to help rural communities connect to advanced learning and specialized medical services.
Several recipients will use the grants to help address two of the nation’s most urgent needs: opioid abuse treatment and mental health counseling.
“We are pleased to offer funding through the Distance Learning and Telemedicine Grant Program to these recipients,” Texas State Director Edd Hargett said, “This investment in broadband provides access to healthcare and education without the hardship of long distance travel.”
Here are a couple of examples of projects USDA is supporting in Texas:
- Texas Rural Education Association is receiving two grants totaling $890,708 to purchase video conferencing equipment to provide interactive distance learning services. The project will benefit multiple communities by providing computer servers, video conferencing equipment, software and networking components to allow schools to provide a rich array of synchronous distance learning experiences. These opportunities will include dual-enrollment classes, virtual field trips, classroom collaborations, career explorations and an expanded menu of course offerings at all levels. Teachers will be able to participate in professional learning communities and access development opportunities without the hardship of long travel.
- Northwest Texas Healthcare System, an acute care hospital, is receiving a $427,113 grant to create a telemedicine project that will work with a consortium of seven health care facilities in the Texas panhandle. The project will connect rural patients to telemedicine opportunities through video teleconferencing. It will operate under the designation Texas Panhandle Specialty Telemedicine Project and will offer higher levels of specialized care via telemedicine to rural patients in Collingsworth, Hansford, Hemphill, Ochiltree, Swisher and Wheeler counties. Northwest Texas Healthcare System will offer emergency, trauma, cardiac, stroke, hospital and psychiatric services.
USDA Rural Development provides loans and grants to help expand economic opportunities and create jobs in rural areas. This assistance supports infrastructure improvements; business development; housing; community services such as schools, public safety and health care; and high-speed internet access in rural areas. For more information, visit www.rd.usda.gov.