Salt Lake City, UT, Jan 25, 2011 -- Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced recently that 106 projects in 38 states and one territory have been selected to receive more than $34.7 million in grants to fund educational projects and expand access to health care services in rural areas through Rural Utilities Services’ (RUS) Distance Learning and Telemedicine Program.
"Too many rural areas cannot take full advantage of the opportunities afforded by broadband for improved education and health care. These funds will help communities enhance their educational and training programs and deliver improved health care services for their residents,” Vilsack said.
The Distance Learning and Telemedicine (DLT) Grant Program provides access to education, training and health care resources in rural areas. For example, an award of $144,274 to the Southwest Educational Development Center (SEDC) in Cedar City will connect several elementary schools and their six district offices in eleven Utah counties to the resource centers at SEDC, and the Utah Education Network. The “eReach Project” will fund video conferencing equipment to support high needs students and their teachers through real-time connections with specialists. Specialists include occupational and physical therapy, special education, autism, as well as academic subjects. Another Utah recipient is The College of Eastern Utah who received $471,347 in RUS funds to connect five rural community sites to the college, including an Education Center, a School, and a Hospital. The new equipment will be used for professional development and distance learning opportunities for rural residents including members of the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe.
The University of Utah received two awards, one for $142,244 to install video conferencing equipment at Northland Pioneer College. The distance learning system will be provided to Apache and Hope Reservation students. Not only will schooling improve, but classes and professional training in critical needs such as child welfare, juvenile justice, geriatric support, mental health, school counseling, family support, and domestic violence. The second award for $298,043 will connect the University’s Health Science Center and Health Care to eight hospitals, four clinics and three health centers. Clinical telemedicine will offer professional training and educational classes for patients and health care providers in seven rural counties of Utah.
Funding is contingent upon the recipient meeting the conditions of the grant agreement. For a complete list of the DLT projects announced, please click here .
USDA, through its Rural Development mission area, manages more than 40 housing, business and community infrastructure and facility programs through a national network of 6,100 employees located in the nation's capital and nearly 500 state and local offices. These programs are designed to improve the economic stability of rural communities, businesses, residents, farmers and ranchers and improve the quality of life in rural America. Rural Development has an existing portfolio of nearly $142 billion in loans and loan guarantees.
For information on DLT’s and other programs offered in rural Utah, call 801-524-4324, or visit our website @ www.rurdev.usda.gov/ut.
Contact: Donna Birk, Public Affairs Specialist - 435-835-4111 x27