STAPLES, Minn., May 07, 2012 -- USDA Rural Development State Director Colleen Landkamer visited the headquarters of the National Joint Powers Alliance® (NJPA) in Staples today to celebrate the start of a project that will install distance learning equipment and expand educational opportunities in 12 school districts, a community college and a medical facility in central Minnesota.
Rural Development is financing a portion of the project with a $405,991 grant through its Distance Learning and Telemedicine (DLT) program. The NJPA is providing matching funds.
“Students in rural Minnesota deserve access to a broad range of educational opportunities,” Landkamer said. “This funding means school districts in the region can provide those opportunities and help students grow and reach their potential.”
Grant funds will be used to install interactive educational technology such as video conferencing that allows school districts to either continue offer curriculum that might otherwise be cut, or allow additional programming to be made available in rural districts that otherwise might not be possible. The NJPA is an Educational Service Agency serving 23 school districts in a five-county area of Central Minnesota.
Schools impacted by the grant include Browerville, Bertha Hewitt, Pillager, Sebeka, Crosby-Ironton, Staples-Motley, Menagha, Verndale, Eagle Valley, New York Mills, Wadena-Deer Creek and Henning. Central Lakes College and the Lakewood Health System also will be connected to the system.
Rural Development’s DLT grant program provides funding for expanded educational opportunities and increases access to quality healthcare in rural and remote areas.