CARSON CITY  – In early July Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that USDA is accepting applications for grants to provide access to education, training and healthcare resources in rural areas.

Up to $17.5 million is available through the Department’s Distance Learning and Telemedicine Grant Program, with individual awards up to $500,000.

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. Higher amounts of matching funds and service to very rural areas increase the competitiveness. Information at will provide additional information on the program funding.

In 2012, USDA Rural Development nationwide provided 58 DLT grants for projects in 36 states. Since 1993, when the program began, 1,400 projects have been funded, totaling $512 million. Eligible applicants include Tribes, state or local units of government, and corporations. No individuals or sole proprietorships are eligible. Applicants must operate a rural community facility or deliver distance learning or telemedicine services into rural areas.

In Nevada, USDA Rural Development has awarded over $2.47 million for distance learning and telemedicine projects, including $711,500 for the University and Community College system, $300,000 for the Nye County School District, $993,544 for the White Pine and Humboldt County School Districts, and $474,872 for the Elko County School District. This funding has provided enhanced educational opportunities for students and teachers and also provides access to specialized health care for rural residents that would not otherwise be available.

Completed applications must be received by Aug. 12. For further details about eligibility rules and application procedures, contact Nevada general field representative Joe Bradley at (208) 288-1435, or view page 38915 of the June 28, 2013 Federal Register: