USDA Seeks Applications for Technology Grants to Expand Access to Health Care and Education in Rural Areas

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USDA Rural Development State Director Brad Finstad today announced that USDA is accepting applications for grants to use broadband e-Connectivity to improve access to health care and educational services in rural communities.

   “E-connectivity is no longer a luxury. It’s a necessity, especially for rural communities and remote towns to continue to grow be competitive,” Finstad said. “Not only is it increasingly used for the expansion of healthcare services and business development, but it also connects rural America’s youth with a wider range of education opportunities than ever before. These grants are one of many tools USDA provides to help ensure that people who live and work in rural areas can use broadband to gain access to essential services and economic opportunities.”

   USDA is awarding grants ranging from $50,000 to $500,000 under the Distance Learning and Telemedicine (DLT) program. Grants can finance projects such as those to provide job training, academic instruction or access to specialized medical care.

   Proposals for projects whose primary purpose is to provide opioid prevention, treatment and recovery will receive 10 priority points when applications are scored. USDA is approaching the opioid misuse crisis with a dedicated urgency because it impacts the quality of life, economic opportunity and rural prosperity.

   USDA also will provide priority points for grants that offer access to Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) courses.     

   Grants are available to most state and local governmental entities, federally recognized tribes, nonprofit groups, for-profit businesses or a consortia of these.  

   The application deadline is June 4, 2018. Applications can be submitted via paper or electronically. For details on how to apply, see page 14245 of the April 3 Federal Register or contact your local Area Office.

   Little Crow Telemedia Network and the River Valley Education District were awarded DLT funds in 2017 to provide technology and distance learning opportunities for their member districts. The distance learning network will offer more courses for high school students, such as college prep and advanced placement courses. This project will serve 19 school districts, two adult basic education sites, and the Upper Sioux Community. An estimated 10,000 rural students, 600 rural educators, 50 adult basic education students and more than 400 Upper Sioux Community tribal members will have access to educational and other services through this project

   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. In January 2018, Secretary Perdue presented the Task Force’s findings to President Trump. These findings included 31 recommendations to align the federal government with state, local and tribal governments to take advantage of opportunities that exist in rural America.

   To view the report in its entirety, please view the Report to the President of the United States from the Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity (PDF, 5.4 MB). In addition, to view the categories of the recommendations, please view the Rural Prosperity infographic (PDF, 190 KB).

   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/mn.

Last Modified: 04/19/2018