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


Distance Learning and Telemedicine Program has Funded 1,400 Rural Health and Education Projects

ANCHORAGE, Alaska, June 28, 2013 – USDA-Rural Development (RD) Alaska State Director Jim Nordlund today announced that USDA-RD’s Rural Utilities Service (RUS) is 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.  The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) remains focused on carrying out its mission, despite a time of significant budget uncertainty. Today's announcement is one part of the Department's efforts to strengthen the rural economy.

 “With access to the latest technology, Alaska’s rural citizens can compete in today’s global economy,” Nordlund said. “These Distance Learning and Telemedicine grants will modernize equipment and improve healthcare services and educational opportunities for residents in the remote areas in Alaska. They will help generate jobs and revitalize rural economies.”

            A great example in Alaska was the DLT grant of $422,521 awarded to the Eastern Aleutian Tribes, Inc. to help finance an expansion and upgrade of its telemedicine equipment. “The Eastern Aleutian Tribes service area experiences what the U.S. Coast Guard calls the harshest and most challenging weather operating conditions in the U.S. The area also has at least 75 active volcanoes which can create huge challenges for providing care, in arguably some of the most remote communities in our nation,” said Michael Christensen, Executive Director, Eastern Aleutian Tribes, Inc.  The Distance Learning and Telemedicine Grant added the capacity to access critical medical and educational resources; and new technology that will allow development of a robust telemedicine and educational link system with which we can overcome many of the environmental and distance challenges. We are very excited that USDA-RD’s RUS has allowed these vital services to be extended to our communities.”

Under this notice, USDA may provide up to $17.5 million nationally in competitive 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.

            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 http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2013-06-28/html/2013-15597.htm.

For more information on DLT grants, please visit: http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/utp_dlt.html.

President Obama’s plan for rural America has brought about historic investment and resulted in stronger rural communities. Under the President's leadership, these investments in housing, community facilities, businesses and infrastructure have empowered rural America to continue leading the way – strengthening America’s economy, small towns and rural communities. USDA’s investments in rural communities support the rural way of life that stands as the backbone of our American values. President Obama and Agriculture Secretary Vilsack are committed to a smarter use of Federal resources to foster sustainable economic prosperity and ensure the government is a strong partner for businesses, entrepreneurs and working families in rural communities.

             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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