WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Susan Collins and Angus King today announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture has awarded a total of $1,644,596 in grant funding to four Maine school districts and a rural health care provider through the Distance Learning and Telemedicine Loan and Grant program. The funding will help connect rural communities with medical and educational experts in other parts of the country, increasing access to health care, substance misuse treatment and advanced educational opportunities.
“Broadband and telehealth technologies have become critical tools for rural communities, helping connect students with teachers and patients with doctors,” Senators Collins and King said in a joint statement. “This funding will support rural Mainers in their efforts to bridge the digital divide and actively interact with experts and resources across the country.”
The award amounts and recipients are as follows:
- Maine Regional School Unit 13 will be awarded $327,466 to purchase video-telepresence equipment to enable real-time distance learning among Regional School Unit #13, the Chewonki Foundation, the Center for Maine Contemporary Art, the Catawba Indian Nation, the Monhegan Island School and AOS 93 to provide rural students, educators and adult learners with access to science, technology, engineering, art and math classes.
- Maine Regional School Unit 87/Maine School Administrative District 23 will be awarded $312,744 to purchase video-telepresence equipment.
- Maine Regional School Unit 80/Maine School Administrative District 4 will be awarded $239,235 to establish a distance learning network connecting instructors at the Maine Tri-County Technology Center to students in 10 rural schools in Maine; three rural schools in New Hampshire; and one end user site in the Indian Township of Passamaquoddy, Maine.
- Maine Regional School Unit 33/Maine School Administrative District 33 will be awarded $366,459 to purchase video-telepresence equipment that will enable real-time distance learning activities between schools in Maine School Administrative District #33 (MSAD #33) and its partners.
- MaineHealth will be awarded $398,692 to install tele-health videoconferencing carts at six rural medical clinics. Three tele-health videoconferencing carts will be provided to three home health agency sites.
The Distatce Learning and Telemedicine Loan and Grant program provides funding to rural hospitals, clinics, schools and libraries for equipment and technical assistance for telemedicine and distance learning. Grant recipients must demonstrate that they serve rural America, prove there is an economic need and provide at least 15 percent in matching funds.