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 Rural Development Accepting Applications for Grants to Fund High-Speed Internet and Digital Equipment for Rural and Tribal Communities

Leigh Hallett
Release Date

Bangor, April 4, 2024 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development invites grant applications for two programs that fund broadband access. The Distance Learning and Telemedicine (DLT) Grant Program helps organizations provide online training, education, and health services. It funds services, training, and equipment to digitally connect people to education, training, and health care resources. The ReConnect Program funds large-scale infrastructure projects. It is designed to bring high-speed internet to remote rural and Tribal communities. Although both programs are managed at the national level, Rural Development staff in Maine can help potential applicants get started.

“At USDA Rural Development, we are always looking to invest in projects that allow our dollars to have a multiplied benefit,” said USDA Rural Development Maine State Director Rhiannon Hampson. “These telecom programs do that by providing access to high-speed internet and equipment, helping our students access educational opportunities, empowering health care providers to offer remote services to rural residents, and enabling small businesses to grow. The Biden-Harris Administration is helping Mainers to thrive in our small communities while embracing the future by funding this work.”

Distance Learning and Telemedicine Grants:

The Distance Learning and Telemedicine (DLT) program helps organizations like schools, libraries, associations, and nonprofits pay for telecommunications technology. State and local governments, federally recognized tribes, nonprofits, and other entities that provide education and health care are eligible to apply. They may use the funds to purchase audio, video, and interactive equipment, computer hardware, network components, software, broadband facilities used for distance learning or telemedicine, and to provide instructional programming. A 15% match is required. Applications for DLT grants must be submitted electronically through the application system at grants.gov website no later than April 29, 2024. (Read more at this link: https://tinyurl.com/2xns6j9z.)

Federal grant proposals take time to prepare. It can be challenging for school systems, nonprofits, and other organizations to complete the application process for a DLT grant, but when they do, the funding can have a major impact in the community. USDA awarded three DLT grants for Maine projects last year:

  • In the Rumford area, Regional School Unit No. 10 secured a $982K grant to purchase video-conferencing equipment for schools in Oxford and Franklin counties. The RSU uses the grant to provide courses for students, mental health services, workforce development, job training, continuing education, and professional development. 
  • In Waterville, the University of New Hampshire Center for Digital Health Innovation (CDHI) is using part of its $130K DLT grant to partner with the Alfond Youth and Community Center (AYCC). Durham-based CDHI will provide basic technology (such as iPads and assistive technology devices) to help serve senior citizens. They will also purchase innovative technology to increase the Community Center’s ability to offer therapeutic health opportunities for older adults and youth.
  • VNA Home Health and Hospice (dba Northern Light Homecare and Hospice, South Portland) in South Portland secured a $615K grant. They are using the funds to update the telehealth equipment and provide services at their sites in eleven Maine counties.

Reconnect Grants for Major Projects:

The ReConnect Program helps pay for the costs to construct, improve, or purchase equipment and facilities to provide broadband service in eligible rural areas. State and local governments, tribes, corporations, and cooperatives are among those eligible to apply. Nationwide, up to $150M is available for grants and up to $200M is available for loans in this round of funding. Applications must be submitted electronically through the application system at usda.gov/reconnect by 11:59 a.m. ET on May 21, 2024. (Read more at this link: www.usda.gov/reconnect.)

For both programs, USDA will prioritize applications that will:  

  • Reduce climate pollution and increase resilience to the impacts of climate change through economic support to rural communities.  
  • Ensure all rural residents have equitable access to Rural Development (RD) programs and benefit from RD-funded projects.   
  • Help rural communities recover economically through more and better market opportunities and improved infrastructure.

Robert Fry is the Telecom General Field Representative serving Maine. Applicants can email him (robert.fry@usda.gov) or call (202) 768-0589 with questions. Bangor-based USDA Rural Development Community Outreach Coordinator Morgan Hotham can also help potential applicants. She can be reached by email (morgan.hotham@usda.gov) or by calling (207) 990-9101.


USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer, and lender.