USDA Announces Funding to Increase Access to Education, Workfo rce Training and Health Care Opportunities in Rural Communities

Ag Secretary Perdue announces grants for 128 DLT projects
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United States Department of Agriculture

PRESS RELEASE

USDA Announces Funding to Increase Access to Education, Workforce Training and Health Care Opportunities in Rural Communities

Investments will help more than 4.5 million rural Americans

WASHINGTON, Oct. 31, 2018 – Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue today announced that USDA is awarding grants for 128 projects to increase access to job training (PDF, 351 KB), educational and health care services in rural areas.

“Empowering rural Americans with access to services for quality of life and economic development is critical to rural prosperity,” Secretary Perdue said. “Distance learning and telemedicine technology bridges the gap that often exists between rural communities and essential education, workforce training and health care resources.”

USDA is awarding $39.6 million through the Distance Learning and Telemedicine (DLT) Grant Program. More than 4.5 million residents in 40 states and three territories will benefit from the funding.

Below are summaries of some of USDA’s investments in rural communities:

  • Washburn University, in Kansas, is being awarded $349,213 to help provide resources to enable two-way interactive distance learning via video teleconferencing technology. The technology will help develop workplace skills that are increasingly needed in the modern, technical work environment. The resources provided through this investment will enable rural students across Kansas to obtain these skills. Additionally, this investment will be used to recruit and retain health care workers for rural communities. More than 3,700 students will have access to the educational opportunities provided with this project, including students in a high school in the Lawrence-Gardener Juvenile Corrections Center.
  • St. Anthony Hospital, in Oklahoma, is receiving $457,020 to help SSM Health Care of Oklahoma purchase telemedicine equipment to expand its Saints 1st Telehealth Network to serve up to 3,434 inpatients and 3,401 outpatients. This project will reduce time and expense for patients to access specialized medical services such as cardiology, endocrinology, pulmonology, ENT (ear, nose and throat), pediatric, hospitalist, primary care, and mental health care. Telemedicine links will be established at 12 hub/end-user locations in Beaver, Blaine, Custer, Garvin, Harper, Kiowa, Lincoln, Major, McClain, Washita and Woods counties. Project sites include nine rural hospitals and three rural physician practices. This project will significantly improve health care in the affected areas.

In April 2017, President Donald J. Trump established the Interagency Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity to identify legislative, regulatory and policy changes that could promote agriculture and prosperity in rural communities. In January 2018, Secretary Perdue presented the Task Force’s findings to President Trump. These findings included 31 recommendations to align the federal government with state, local and tribal governments to take advantage of opportunities that exist in rural America. Increasing investments in rural infrastructure is a key recommendation of the task force.

To view the report in its entirety, please view the Report to the President of the United States from the Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity (PDF, 5.4 MB). In addition, to view the categories of the recommendations, please view the Rural Prosperity infographic (PDF, 190 KB).

USDA Rural Development provides loans and grants to help expand economic opportunities and create jobs in rural areas. This assistance supports infrastructure improvements; business development; housing; community facilities such as schools, public safety and health care; and high-speed internet access in rural areas. For more information, visit www.rd.usda.gov.

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