Tiyan, Guam, Jul 02, 2013 -- State Director for USDA Rural Development Chris Kanazawa announced that USDA is accepting applications for grants to provide access to education, training and healthcare resources in rural areas. Funding is authorized through USDA'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.
"This program offers the opportunity to connect isolated communities in the Western Pacific to medical services and educational opportunities they would not otherwise have," said Kanazawa. "Our focus is to ensure that all rural Americans have access to state-of-the-art services through our rapidly expanding telecommunications system."
Under this notice, USDA may provide up to $17.5 million in 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.
Previously, USDA Rural Development awarded the University of Guam with a $168,850 DLT Grant to expand medical services available for children in Yap, Chuuk and Pohnpei through a telemedicine system involving UOG's PEACESAT network and Shriner's Hospital for Children in Honolulu. The project is utilizing the videoconferencing technology for "real time" consultation and continuing medical education. Also, the College of the Marshall Islands received a $147,904 grant to extend distance learning opportunities via teleconferencing to its satellite campuses in Arrak and Ebeye.
"We are committed to the future of rural communities in the Western Pacific and we will continue to support the expansion of telecommunications, educational resources and computer networks throughout the region," said Joe Diego, Area Director in Guam. "Distance learning and telemedicine are two ways that technology can make a major impact in the quality of life for residents in the Western Pacific."
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.
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.