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USDA Invests in the Expansion of Rural Education and Health Care Access

Danielle Ehlers
Release Date

Distance Learning and Telemedicine Investments will Benefit 135,327 Rural Residents and Multiple Schools in Florida and the U.S. Virgin Islands

Gainesville, Fla. Nov. 20, 2019 – U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development State Director, Phil Leary (AICP), today announced that USDA is investing $2,604,718 for seven distance learning and telemedicine projects in Florida and the U.S. Virgin Islands territory. USDA is providing the funding through the Distance Learning and Telemedicine (DLT) grant program. These investments will benefit 135,327 rural residents and multiple schools.

"Distance learning and telemedicine will provide distinct opportunities for rural residents to take advantage of economic, health care and educational opportunities without having to travel long distances," Leary said. "Under the leadership of President Trump and Agriculture Secretary Perdue, USDA is committed to partnering with rural communities to help them improve their quality of life, because when rural America thrives, all of America thrives."

Below are the projects announced today receiving grant funds:

  • PanCare of Florida, Inc in Florida will enable primary care, behavioral health and opioid counseling for children and youth. Interactive video equipment will be installed at twenty sites in seven Florida counties. This project increases health system access to over 5,170 students.
  • Levy County School District in Florida will enable Florida’s Levy County School District to create a Distance Learning network. The hub will be at Chiefland, serving six locations throughout the county. The emphasis will be on providing STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math) classes. An estimated 7,330 students will be served by the project.
  • The District School Board of Madison County in Florida will allow the District School Board of Madison County to purchase equipment to create an interactive distance learning network for seven schools in Madison County, Fla. STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math) course offerings will be provided, improving educational opportunities for an estimated 2,442 rural students.
  • Washington County School District in Northern Florida will be used by the Panhandle Area Education Consortium (PAEC) to implement a distance learning system that will provide students with access to advanced classes. Colleges and schools in nine rural counties in the Florida panhandle will be served, benefitting up to 38,288 people.
  • The Distance Learning Telemedicine grant will enable the Government of the Virgin Islands to provide a telemedicine project that places interactive video technologies at five sites. Medical staff training will be improved. This project will serve 39,923 residents on St. Croix and St. Thomas islands.
  • The University of the Virgin Islands (UVI) to implement a distance learning program to provide early heath screening, educational courses, and training. This project places interactive distance learning equipment at the main UVI campuses as well as in 12 satellite locations throughout the three-island region which includes St. Thomas, St. John and St. Croix. The rural population served by this project is 42,174.
  • The U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Education will be able to implement a distance learning program to enable teachers to expand course offerings, prepare students for college, and provide continuing education opportunities for teachers. The system will link the Department of Education Main Complex with 13 schools throughout the Virgin Islands.

Applicants eligible for Distance Learning and Telemedicine grants include most State and local governmental entities, federally-recognized tribes, nonprofits, for-profit businesses and consortia of eligible entities.

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. Supporting the rural workforce was a cornerstone recommendation of the task force.

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 facilities such as schools, public safety and health care; and high-speed internet access in rural areas. For more information, visit www.rd.usda.gov.


USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender