USDA providing grants to improve health care, education

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack recently announced that U.S. Department of Agriculture is accepting applications for grants to provide access to education, training and health care resources in rural areas. Funding is authorized through the Department’s Distance Learning and Telemedicine Grant Program. The USDA remains focused on carrying out its mission, despite a time of significant budget uncertainty.

The announcement is one part of the department’s efforts to strengthen the rural economy.

“With access to the latest technology, America’s rural citizens can compete in today’s global economy,” Vilsack said. “These distance learning and telemedicine grants will modernize equipment and improve health care services and educational opportunities for residents in remote areas. They will help generate jobs in small towns and revitalize rural economies.”

Under this notice, the 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.

Completed applications must be received by Aug. 12, 2013.

For more details about eligibility rules and application procedures, go online and visit