Funding Alert! Grants for Distance Learning and Telemedicine Equipment

United States Department of Agriculture Rural Development, Rural Utilities Services

Attention organizations and communities interested in providing distance learning or telemedicine services to rural areas! The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development, Rural Utilities Services’ Distance Learning and Telemedicine (DLT) grant program is accepting applications for equipment, software, and other technological needs to provide education and medical services to remote areas with populations of 20,000 and under. Awards range from $50,000 to $1million and there is a three-year period of performance beginning the date the funds are released. A minimum 15% match is required and cannot be from another federal source. This program was created to assist rural communities in acquiring distance learning and telemedical technologies so local teachers and medical services providers who serve rural residents can link to other teachers, medical professionals, and experts located at distances too far to access otherwise.

Who is eligible to apply?

Eligible applicants include those who are legally organized as an incorporated organization, an Indian tribe or tribal organization, a state or local unit of government, a consortium, or other legal entity, including a private corporation organized on a for-profit or not-for-profit basis. Each applicant must provide evidence of its legal capacity to contract with the Rural Utilities Service to obtain the grant and comply with all applicable requirements, in accordance with 7 CFR part 1734.4(a).

What is the program goal?

The intent of the DLT program is to benefit rural areas (populations of 20,000 or less and not contiguous and adjacent to urban areas > 50,000). While some projects could include end-users in more urbanized areas, the USDA will evaluate projects based on their benefit to rural areas. Applications will be scored based on rurality, economic need, and special considerations, with an emphasis on the documented need for services and project benefits to rural populations.

The goal of the program is to acquire and install the equipment to provide distance learning and telemedicine. However, the equipment must meet the purpose of the DLT grant program, which is to primarily deliver education or medical care to end users at remote sites via telecommunications, not simply to furnish educational or medical technology. Provided services must be two-way synchronous communication where two or more people can exchange information immediately in real-time. For a distance learning example, watching a video of a training does not qualify, but participating virtually in a class with a live presentation by a professor where questions can be asked, is eligible. For telemedicine, home monitoring is not eligible as it is one-way communication, whereas having equipment in small rural hospitals that can connect with an urban trauma center to consult with a specialist is eligible.

Successful applications use a hub and spoke network. For a distance learning example, this could be connecting nursing faculty from multiple universities to nursing students doing clinicals in multiple community access hospitals in rural communities. For telemedicine, this could be rural hospitals connecting to a neurologist at a major hospital to consult on stroke patients for when to administer tPA.

See the full Application Guide at for details of the required components. Proposal deadline is April 29, 2024.

What makes a project a good fit?

Projects that serve rural areas meeting the rurality and economic need requirements make the best applications. Projects that either enhance, expand, or implement a service offering in rural areas (either through distance learning or telemedicine) are a great fit as they either increase or provide access to new/additional services that overcome the barriers of remote geography.

What if I am ready to apply? To move your project forward, take the following action steps as soon as possible:

What if I need help with this application?

Contact Assel Grant Services (AGS) today! Our team can help with all aspects of preparing the application and managing the grant if you are awarded. If you would like to discuss this possibility, please contact AGS as soon as possible. Julie Alsup, our Vice President of Grant Operations and Federal Team Lead, will be happy to discuss this opportunity and provide you with a quote for grant services.

What if I am not ready to apply this year?

Start preparing for next year! The DLT grant is an annual funding opportunity and the program requirements stay fairly consistent from year to year. Use this year’s application guide to see what information is required so you can be ready to apply next year.

How do I learn more about federal grant proposal writing, so my application is more likely to be successful?

AGS offers a Federal Grants Training Series! The series is designed to provide insight into federal agencies beyond the typical reading of the solicitation by program officers and provide details you need to be successful. AGS also offers several on-demand webinars on a variety of topics to support the full grant cycle. Check out our website to learn more and sign up for our training newsletter.

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