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USDA Rural Development Offering Grants to Telemedicine and Distance Learning Projects Addressing Opioid Misuse in Rural Iowa

Darin Leach
Des Moines, Iowa
Release Date

Grant Menke, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development State Director in Iowa, today announced that USDA is giving funding priority in a key grant program for applications that address opioid misuse in rural communities.

“USDA Rural Development is committed to working with rural communities to identify substance misuse disorders at the local level, as well as provide program investment, strategic partnerships and best-practice implementation,” Menke said. “Looking for innovative ways to collaborate positively impacts rural prosperity.”

USDA Rural Development’s Distance Learning and Telemedicine Grant program provides financial assistance to enable and improve distance learning and telemedicine services in rural areas.

These grant funds support the use of telecommunications-enabled information, audio and video equipment, and related advanced technologies by students, teachers, medical professionals, and rural residents. They are intended to increase rural access to education, training, and health care resources that are otherwise unavailable or limited in scope.

Applications focused on opioid treatment services are due April 15, 2019.  A second application deadline of May 15, 2019 has been set for all other Distance Learning and Telemedicine Grant applications.

An application guide can be found at www.rd.usda.gov/programs-services/distance-learning-telemedicine-grants.

Last year five projects serving rural Iowans received grant funding from this program including Iowa Lakes Community College in Estherville, Iowa Specialty Hospital in Clarion, Westwood Community School District in Sloan, Clarke County Hospital in Osceola and Mercy Health Network.

“Expanding access to services for quality-of-life improvements and economic development is critical to rural prosperity,” Menke said. “Distance learning and telemedicine technologies help bridge the gap to our rural areas.”

DLT applications can be submitted electronically at www.grants.gov or in hard copy to: USDA Rural Development Telecommunications Programs, 1400 Independence Ave., SW, Room 2844, Mail Stop 1597, Washington, DC 20250-1597.

President Donald J. Trump has mobilized his entire Administration to address opioid misuse by directing the declaration of a nationwide Public Health Emergency. To help local leaders respond to this epidemic, USDA has worked to build infrastructure for prevention, treatment and recovery, facilitate partnerships, and drive innovation in rural communities. 

Last year, USDA worked with the Office of National Drug Control Policy to establish a White House Rural Opioid Federal Interagency Working Group that is improving coordination of federal resources in rural America. In December, USDA launched the Community Opioid Misuse Toolbox. This initiative includes the Community Resource Guide, a comprehensive directory of federal resources that can help rural communities address the opioid crisis, and the Community Assessment Tool, an interactive database to help community leaders assess how and why the opioid epidemic is impacting their regions. For more information, visit www.usda.gov/topics/opioids.

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.

Contact USDA Rural Development

Information on programs available through USDA Rural Development is available by visiting www.rd.usda.gov/ia or by calling (515) 284-4663.

USDA Rural Development has 11 offices across the state to serve the 1.7 million Iowans living in rural communities and areas.  Office locations include a State Office in Des Moines, along with Area Offices in Albia, Atlantic, Humboldt, Indianola, Iowa Falls, Le Mars, Mount Pleasant, Storm Lake, Tipton and Waverly.