USDA Invites Applications for Grants to Bring Improved Educational and Health Care Services to Rural Communities 

TEMPLE, July 9, 2013 – The USDA is now accepting applications for grants to provide access to education, training and healthcare resources in rural areas. Funding is authorized through the Department’s Distance Learning and Telemedicine (DLT) Grant Program. 

"Schools and health care facilities in rural Texas have increasingly tighter budgets each year.  Distance Learning and Telemedicine grants are powerful tools for providing expanded educational and medical opportunities which otherwise may be unavailable to students and residents of rural communities," said Paco Valentin, USDA Rural Development State Director of Texas.

Under this notice, USDA may provide up to $17.5 million in grants. Funds can be used to buy equipment and provide technical assistance. To be eligible, applicants must serve a rural area, demonstrate economic need and provide at least 15 percent in matching funds. Awards range up to $500,000.  In 2012, USDA Rural Development provided 58 DLT grants for projects in 36 states. Since the program began, 1,400 projects have been funded.

For example, Ranger College received a $322,504 grant in 2012 to purchase a distance learning system that will address the educational and economic needs for 6,500 high school students in Brown, Eastland, Young and Erath Counties located in Central Texas.  With this new system Ranger College works directly with high school sites to deliver dual credit courses as well as other courses and degrees previously unavailable.  Teachers and other resources from the college can now extend into the high school classrooms via distance learning connections to benefit students and high school teachers.

Completed applications must be received by August 12, 2013. For further details about eligibility rules and application procedures, see the notice published on page 38915 of the June 28, 2013 Federal Register:

USDA, through its Rural Development mission area, has a portfolio of programs designed to improve the economic stability of rural communities, businesses, residents, farmers and ranchers and improve the quality of life in rural America.

USDA has made a concerted effort to deliver results for the American people, even as USDA implements sequestration – the across-the-board budget reductions mandated under terms of the Budget Control Act. USDA has already undertaken historic efforts since 2009 to save more than $828 million in taxpayer funds through targeted, common-sense budget reductions. These reductions have put USDA in a better position to carry out its mission, while implementing sequester budget reductions in a fair manner that causes as little disruption as possible.

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