February 01, 2005

Crapo: Rural Communities Eligible For Distance Learning And Telehealth Funding

Deadline approaching for USDA grants

Washington, D.C. â?? Idaho Senator Mike Crapo sent a letter to officials in rural Idaho counties, cities, and organizations today, alerting them of the upcoming deadline to apply for grants and loans available to strengthen rural distance learning and telemedicine programs. The funding, furnished through the U.S. Department of Agricultureâ??s (USDA) Distance Learning and Telemedicine Program (DLT), is part of $325 million made available nationally this year through the program. Grant applications are due April 30th. Applications for loans and the loan/grant combination can be submitted year round, but are awarded on a first-come, first-served basis.â??In so many ways, technology is making education and medical care more effective and accessible throughout the country,â?? Crapo said. â??Telehealth technology makes it possible for doctors to examine and direct the treatment of patients without being physically present. Distance learning ensures that students, regardless of circumstance or geographic location, have the opportunity to learn. With so many rural areas in Idaho, the money provided by the DLT program is both appropriate and necessary. These loans and grants will facilitate enhanced educational opportunities, improved health care services, and economic development for the citizens and communities of rural Idaho.â??For FY 2004, $15 million in grants, $110 million in combination loan-grants, and $200 million in loans are available for DLT projects serving rural America. Last year, Idaho received nearly $500,000 in DLT funding. The funds were used to develop distance education systems for use by schools and medical facilities in nine counties. Application guides, copies of necessary forms and samples, and information on program regulations are available via the internet at http://www.usda.gov/rus/telecom/dlt/dlt.htm, or by calling (202) 720-0413. # # #