Washington, D.C., Jan 24, 2011 -- - Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that 106 projects in 38 states and one territory including the Gallup-McKinley and Jemez school systems 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 USDA’s 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.
Upon learning about the successful application of funds by both school districts, USDA Rural Development State Director Terry Brunner said, “Our New Mexico rural schools are in great need of any support that helps reduce the distances traveled for medical and educational services.” Brunner added, “Our funding will help these school districts purchase the latest technology to help their students and teachers access a full range of medical and educational opportunities and, consequently, increase the quality of life for these rural residents.
The Distance Learning and Telemedicine (DLT) Grant Program provides access to education, training and health care resources in rural school districts such as the Gallup-McKinley County School district which is receiving $499,486. Funds will be used to upgrade and install the latest interactive video technology equipment in the classrooms. Also, the video conferencing equipment will be used by the teachers for staff development. The distance learning systems allow teachers to obtain needed certifications without having to travel.
The Jemez Valley Public School system is also receiving an award for $475,145. The funding will be used to replace old equipment. The new system will also allow teachers to acquire certifications without travelling to obtain their mandated certifications. When the communications system is completed the new equipment will be placed in eight schools and the Jemez Valley Medical Clinic. The system will provide support to the district’s lone school nurse through a virtual nursing service offered by the clinic.
Funding is contingent upon the recipient meeting the conditions of the grant agreement. For a complete list of the DLT projects announced today, please click here .
USDA, through its Rural Development mission area, administers and 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.