USDA invests in the expansion of rural education & health care


USDA Deputy Under Secretary for Rural Development Donald “DJ” LaVoy announced that the agency is investing $42.5 million in 133 distance learning and telemedicine projects in 37 states and two U.S. territories. The USDA is providing the funding through the Distance Learning and Telemedicine grant program. These investments will benefit 5.4 million rural residents.

“Distance learning and telemedicine make it easier for thousands of rural residents to take advantage of economic, health care, and educational opportunities without having to travel long distances,” LaVoy said. 

The USDA is announcing investments today in Alaska, Alabama, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Mississippi, Montana, North Carolina, North Dakota, Nebraska, Nevada, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Below are examples of projects announced today:

  • Mississippi State University is receiving a $488,315 grant to update video conferencing and cloud-based equipment in 93 counties. USDA’s investment will enable participants in extension offices and experiment stations to deliver educational programming to interactive audiences. This project will benefit nearly 29,000 Mississippi residents, students, extension educators and faculty.
  • In Ohio, the Lisbon Exempted Village School District is receiving a $323,478 grant to create a distance learning network at eight sites in Columbiana County. The district will offer classes and behavioral health services to 850 students.
  • Owensboro Health Inc. in Kentucky is receiving a $460,820 grant to install telemedicine equipment at 10 sites in Hopkins, McLean, Muhlenberg and Ohio counties in Kentucky and a site in Perry County, Indiana. This project will provide health care resources to approximately 35,000 residents, including nearly 2,000 patients.

Applicants eligible for Distance Learning and Telemedicine grants include most state and local governmental entities, federally-recognized tribes, nonprofits, for-profit businesses, and consortia of eligible entities.

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

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