Anchorage, Alaska, Apr 09, 2014 -- U.S. Department of Agriculture-Rural Development (USDA-RD) Alaska State Director Jim Nordlund today announced three Alaska Native entities have been awarded funding totaling $1,158,042 through USDA-Rural Development’s Rural Utilities Services Distance Learning and Telemedicine Program (DLT). All three recipients are located in both USDA StrikeForce for Rural Growth and Opportunity Initiative Areas; Southeast and Western/Interior Alaska.
"The DLT 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 education and advanced medicine. Rural Alaskans deserve the same opportunities and these funds will help to make that happen."
Awards are contingent upon the recipients meeting the terms of the agreement with USDA. Entities eligible to 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 three DLT program funding recipients are:
• Hydaburg School District: $500,000 – To purchase video conference equipment to be used to provide distance learning and training content to eleven schools in three rural school districts in Southwest Alaska: Hydaburg, Southeast Island and Craig. The communities served are isolated and can only be reached by water or float plane. The schools will be connected with the University of Alaska Southeast. The University will be offering a wide range of vocationally oriented and high interest curricula that allows students to be better prepared for college or a professional vocation.
The equipment will be also be used to expand staff professional development, virtual field trips, to provide education for all community members and to connect Alaska Native students with other Native American students in the U.S.
• Annette Island School District: $394,665 – To provide the Annette Island School District ability to acquire interactive video conferencing for a distance learning system that will connect their students, and students in Chatham, Chevak, Kashunamuit, and Klawock School Districts with each other and with the world-at-large. In order to overcome their situation of living in such a remote location the distance learning system video teleconferencing platform will offer these young Alaskans the same opportunities in the Internet-based economy as students in urbanized centers across America. The project will impact the educational life for 921 students and has the potential to impact the educational life for over 5,000 adult learners.
• Council of Athabascan Tribal Governments: $263,377 – Rural Development funds will be used by the Council of Athabascan Tribal Government (CATG) telehealth project to provide video conferencing equipment to clinical project sites in Birch Creek, Venetie, Fort Yukon, Beaver and Arctic Village. These clinical sites are located in the Yukon-Koyukuk Census Area, which is highly remote and not easily accessible. This project will serve 985 people in five villages. The telemedical equipment will allow face-to-face medical consultation between local care provider and patient on one end, to a physician specialist at a distant large hospital on the other end. The same videoconferencing equipment will be used to keep local care providers up-to-date with new procedures and all aspects of medical education. This grant will provide funding to improve access to basic health care services, as well as education health and well-being services to citizens in CATG communities.
For more information on USDA's DLT Program, please visit: http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/utp_dlt.html.
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.
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