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USDA Invests $1.4 Million in Georgia’s Rural Education and Health Care Access

Deborah Callahan
Athens, Ga
Release Date

ATHENS, Ga., Nov. 20, 2019U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Deputy Under Secretary for Rural Development Donald “DJ” LaVoy today announced that USDA is investing $42.5 million in 133 distance learning and telemedicine projects in 37 states and two U.S. territories. USDA is providing the funding through the Distance Learning and Telemedicine (DLT) grant program. These investments will benefit 5.4 million rural residents.

   “Distance learning and telemedicine make it easier for thousands of rural residents to take advantage of economic, health care and educational opportunities without having to travel long distances,” LaVoy 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.”

   USDA is announcing investments today in Alaska, Alabama, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Mississippi, Montana, North Carolina, North Dakota, Nebraska, Nevada, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

   Below are the projects announced today in Georgia:

  • At Mercer University a $403,332 grant will enable the Corporation of Mercer University of Georgia to undertake a telemedicine project that is focused on behavioral health.  Ten project sites in eight counties will be linked to a high-definition telehealth and remote monitoring program that will provide behavioral and mental health care services.  Communities will benefit in the counties of Johnson, Washington, Telfair, Warren, Hancock, Sumter and Clay in Georgia with the hub located in Bibb County. Services will be available to 20,606 rural residents.
  • The Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice will use $384,344 grant to establish a distance learning program to train and educate staff.  This project will serve 96,000 individuals in 15 counties.
  • The Georgia Department of Labor will use $352,135 grant to implement a Distance Learning program to provide training to customers and staff.  The project will serve 51,525 residents in eight rural counties. 
  • Oconee Fall Line technical College will use a $105,702 grant for equipping classrooms with learning equipment which will allow teachers to provide classes in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).  Distance learning equipment will be placed at five locations in Jefferson, Laurens, Telfair and Washington counties.
  • Augusta University will use $182,250 grant to provide ultrasound equipment for educational and diagnostic disease screening.  An estimated 2,600 patient-encounters are expected during the three-year grant period, with a parallel benefit to approximately 220 medical school students participating in the project through the university medical school.  This project will include 28 sites across 21 Georgia counties.

   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.