CHAMPAIGN, IL Dec. 19th, 2023 – U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) State Director Betsy Dirksen Londrigan announced today that USDA has made seven Distance Telehealth Learning Medicine Awards to Illinois Education Systems that will equip them with secure hub sites and offer remote learning to over 55,000 rural students.
State Director Betsy Dirksen Londrigan states “President Biden made a commitment to ensuring education access to all students and Rural Development is carrying out that commitment to rural students at all levels of learning. Covid-19 taught us having strong remote learning platforms is just as important as having a good in-person setup. It is crucial to the success and wellbeing of our communities that people can access education regardless of their ability to be in a physical classroom” continues Dirksen Londrigan. “Young parents can continue their education without interruption. Lifelong learners can take a remote course without driving an hour to a community college campus, and our grade school children can still participate in class despite outside factors. We must continue to make these investments in our communities.”
Illinois Education Recipients:
- Vermillion Association for Special Education received a $73,000 grant to purchase interactive video conferencing equipment so instructors can provide special education services to 11 locations. They will focus on delivering mental health and speech therapy services to approximately 6,500 students.
- Southern Illinois University School of Medicine received a $171,000 grant to provide its students with videoconferencing equipment and interactive software. Instructors will be able to teach EMS education courses to 16 locations benefitting over 27,500 students.
- Centralia High School District received a $585,000 investment to purchase distance learning equipment so they can provide mental health and substance abuse prevention programs, counseling, and expand education opportunities such as dual credit courses. Over 4,400 students in 11 different locations will benefit from this investment.
- Flanagan Cornell Unit 74 received a $65,000 investment to purchase video conferencing equipment so instructors can teach Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics courses to 1 location benefitting 120 students.
- Illinois Valley Community College District 513 received a $890,000 grant to purchase distance learning equipment that features “people plus content” dedicated classrooms, mobile classrooms, and small setting huddle rooms. Mental Health and substance abuse professionals at Illinois Community College in LaSalle County, IL, will deliver preventative education and counseling including substance and opioid use disorder treatment to 11 locations benefitting 9,800 individuals. Instructors at Illinois Valley Community College will deliver dual credit courses and share other education opportunities benefitting those 9,800 students.
- Illinois Eastern Community Colleges District 529 received a $719,000 grant to purchase hub/end user sites that enables them to expand education opportunities by sharing classes between dispersed rural colleges, providing dual credit courses to high schools, and other educational activities to include substance abuse prevention education benefitting over 6,500 individuals.
- Fulton Hancock McDonough/Schuyler Regional Office of Education received a $600,000 investment to purchase equipment including “people plus content” dedicated classrooms, mobile classrooms, and small setting huddle rooms. Instructors will also be able to deliver mental health and substance abuse prevention education and counseling to seven locations, benefitting over 2,500 individuals.
About the Distance Learning and Telemedicine program:
This program is designed to help rural communities use advanced telecommunications technology to connect to each other – and the world – overcoming the effects of remoteness and low population density. Congress provided $60 million in Distance Learning and Telemedicine funding in FY 2023. State and local governmental organizations, federally recognized Tribes, non-profit organizations, incorporated, for-profit businesses, and groups of eligible entities working together were all eligible for this program. Rural area populations for this program were 20,000 or fewer. To learn more, visit Distance Learning & Telemedicine Grants | Rural Development (usda.gov).
USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender.