USDA Provides Funding to Increase Access to Educational and Health Care Services in Rural Areas

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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. This program funds equipment that uses broadband to help rural communities connect to advanced learning and specialized medical services.

   The grants are supporting projects in Alaska, Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

   Several recipients will use the grants to help address two of the nation’s most urgent needs: opioid abuse treatment and mental health counseling.

   Indiana projects USDA is supporting include:

  • Indiana’s East Central Educational Service Center has been approved for a $498,261 grant to help purchase video conferencing equipment for two hubs and 18 end-user sites in 13 communities. The project will link sites in Martin, Jasper, Newton, Randolph, Jennings, and Fayette counties in Indiana with a site in Aroostook County, Maine. Users will gain access to new learning material, expertise and staff.  The Center and the Indiana Small and Rural Schools Association will provide professional development training and resources.
  • Indiana’s East Central Educational Service Center will also receive a $490,800 grant to help purchase video conferencing equipment for two hubs and 10 end-user sites in rural Indiana and South Carolina.   It will provide computer servers, video conferencing units and software to allow schools to share foreign language, science, technology, engineering and math classes. Advanced Placement courses, after-school tutoring, and enhanced special education services will be offered. The project will also provide teachers with increased access to professional development and training.

   USDA’s DLT program has a strong record of supporting rural health care and educational programs. 

In April 2017, President Donald J. Trump established the Interagency Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity to identify legislative, regulatory and policy changes that could promote agriculture and prosperity in rural communities. As Secretary of Agriculture, Sonny Perdue was selected to serve as chairman of the Task Force, which includes more than 22 federal agencies as well as local leaders, executive departments, and offices. Over the course of six months, Secretary Perdue travelled to 30 states to listen to the voice of rural America and gather recommendations from citizens, farmers, and business leaders throughout the country. He held countless meetings with partner Federal agencies, and consulted with industry experts. In January 2018, Secretary Perdue presented the Task Force’s findings to President Trump, which included 31 recommendations to align the federal government with state, local and tribal governments to take advantage of opportunities that exist in rural America. You may click HERE to view the report in its entirety or HERE to view a summary of the recommendations.

   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

Last Modified: 01/24/2018