Anchorage, AK, Dec 08, 2011 -- USDA-RD Alaska State Director Jim Nordlund today announced five Alaska school districts and the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium (ANTHC) have been awarded funding through USDA-Rural Development’s Rural Utilities Service Distance Learning and Telemedicine Program (DLT).
“This program delivers educational and medical opportunities that are urgently needed in remote, rural areas,” Nordlund said. “President Obama has said that no matter where you live in America, you should have access to quality educational opportunities. Rural Alaskans deserve the same opportunities for education and medical care as our urban area residents, and these funds will make that happen.”
“The school districts being funded, along with the ANTHC serve predominately Alaska Native students and residents living in remote rural villages which are inaccessible by any means other than plane or boat,” said Nordlund. All those receiving DLT funding have been operating with minimal or outdated equipment and technology. This funding will greatly improve the quality of life for students, teachers, medical professionals and patients and their overall communities,” added Nordlund.
The DLT program provides expanded educational opportunities to students in extremely remote areas. For example, in Native communities above the Arctic Circle in Alaska, there are sometimes up to three grades in a single village classroom, and DLT funding allows teaching through remote teleconferencing. In Barrow, Jana Harcharek, Director of Inupiaq Education, uses distance learning to provide dual-credit courses through Ilisagvik College. She uses the Inupiaq values, culture, history, language and philosophy as a foundation from which to provide instruction to students over a distance learning system.
Awards are contingent upon the recipients meeting the terms of the agreement with USDA.
Entities providing education and medical care via telecommunications include corporations or partnerships, Indian tribes or Native organizations, state or local units of government, consortia, and private for-profit or not-for profit corporations. Individuals are not eligible.
The six DLT program funding recipients are:
• Yukon-Koyukuk School District – $454,938
Extends current distance learning services to seven schools in Yukon Flats, including a vocational education center bringing access to a wider range of teachers for the two school districts and presents access to career-oriented, continuing education, dual credit and traditional courses along with teacher development and support
• Yakutat School District City/Borough of Yakutat – $499,635
Ties 515 remote Alaska home schooled students into the Unlimited Learning Center in Cortez, CO, an organization that will provide vocational training in healthcare, hospitality, culinary arts and office administration through courses including core curriculum for high school, dual credit, AP coursework, and a variety of vocational courses from Unlimited Learning that leads to certifications
• Lower Kuskokwim School District – $500,000
Replaces existing, but technically outdated two-way video system with new technology which will double the availability of courses and introduce enhanced functionality such as media capture, streaming and video management; it also provides professional teacher development programs
• Kodiak Island Borough School District – $294,958
Links two distance learning studios in Kodiak with eight schools along the coastal villages in the Kodiak, with direct educational access to the world outside of their villages and educators will have the means to deliver core subjects, adopt science technology, engineering and mathematics, provide virtual field trips and participate in professional teacher development courses
• Northwest Arctic Borough School District – $315,160
Purchase of video conferencing equipment for the 11 villages served in the region which replaces the limited and outdated distance learning modes current used
• Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium – $201,650
Access to home tele-health monitoring for Alaska Natives residing in some the most remote areas of the state, who suffer with diabetes and other chronic diseases services, via 220 new devices capable of transmitting blood glucose, blood pressure, pulse, weight and other vital signs and being monitored by a 24/7 call center
Since taking office, President Obama's Administration has taken significant steps to improve the lives of rural Americans and has provided broad support for rural communities. The Obama Administration has set goals of modernizing infrastructure by providing broadband access to 10 million Americans, expanding educational opportunities for students in rural areas, and providing affordable health care.
In the long term, these unparalleled rural investments will help ensure that America's rural communities are repopulating, self-sustaining, and thriving economically.
USDA-Rural Development administers and manages housing, business and community infrastructure and facility programs through a national network of state and local offices. Rural Development has an existing portfolio of more than $155 billion in loans and loan guarantees. 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.
For more information, visit http://www.rurdev.usda.gov