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News Release

Release No. 0026.11
Contact:
Weldon Freeman (202) 690-1384

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USDA Utilities Administrator Announces Funding for Colorado Distance Learning Projects

DENVER, January 21, 2011 – USDA Rural Utilities Service (RUS) Administrator Jonathan Adelstein today announced that two areas have been selected to receive grants to help finance Distance Learning and Telemedicine (DLT) Program educational projects in rural areas of Colorado.

"Too many rural communities across the country still lack access to quality digital educational opportunities," Adelstein said. "These DLT funds will allow more than 5,000 students across 11 counties to use state-of-the-art video conferencing equipment to take advantage of advanced classes and interactive educational sessions offered by larger schools and universities. This financial support we are providing will enable small Colorado schools to bring leading educators directly into their rural classrooms."

El Paso County School District 22 has been selected to receive a $483,909 grant to install interactive video teleconferencing equipment for distance learning at 21 locations. As a result, the school district plans to offer remote classes in advanced mathematics, English, social sciences, psychology and sociology. The school district expects to provide job training programs and address challenges such as a declining employment base and school enrollment. The district will supplement the USDA grant with $245,884 in matching funds.

The East Central Board of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES) has been selected to receive a $394,486 grant to expand a video conferencing network to serve seventeen schools in several counties in east central Colorado. The project will renovate the hub site into a state-of-the-art videoconferencing center and provide equipment to the end user sites for interactive whiteboards, document cameras, computers, and other necessary tools. East Central BOCES has raised $201,499 in matching funds. Funding of each grant is contingent upon the recipient meeting the terms of the grant agreement.

USDA has also provided a number of telemedicine grants to Colorado recipients under the DLT program in recent years. For example, in 2009, the Plateau Valley Hospital District in Mesa County received a grant to fund the purchase of digital x-ray processors for two rural clinics, which connect with the central hospital in Grand Junction, allowing immediate x-ray readings, saving time, improving quality and enhancing patient care at the point-of contact.

Rural Utilities Service is part of USDA Rural Development. The Distance Learning and Telemedicine (DLT) Grant Program provides grants to entities providing education, training and health care resources in rural areas. The funding announced today totals over $800,000.

USDA, through its Rural Development mission area, administers and manages more than 40 housing, business and community infrastructure and facility programs through a national network of 6,100 employees located in Washington, D.C., and 500 state and local offices. These programs are designed to improve the economic stability of rural communities, businesses, residents, farmers and ranchers and improve the quality of life in rural America. Rural Development has an existing portfolio of more than $142 billion in loans and loan guarantees.

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