Yesterday, I joined local and state leaders at an event in North Carolina highlighting the Obama Administration’s drive to provide top-quality educational and health care opportunities to rural residents. I went to James Sprunt Community College in Kenansville, N.C., to highlight USDA funding that will enable the faculty to provide college-level and advanced placement courses to students in five high schools. It’s one of 100 Distance Learning and Telemedicine (DLT) grants awarded by USDA Rural Development nationwide.
These grants, administered through the Rural Utilities Service, are in keeping with the spirit of remarks President Obama made in a State of the Union Address. If we want this country to succeed in the 21st century, we must harness the potential of every young person in this country. It’s an economic imperative that we have a highly educated, highly trained – and healthy – workforce. Distance learning and telemedicine technology can effectively eliminate the barriers of time and distance that often challenge rural areas – bridging great distances to provide quality educational and health care opportunities to individuals that are hundreds, even thousands of miles away.
North Carolina is taking full advantage of the DLT program. In addition to the funding provided to James Sprunt Community College, UNC-Chapel Hill, East Carolina University, Easter Seals UCP NC & VA, Sampson Regional Medical Center and Mission Healthcare Foundation, Inc. will also receive support for distance learning and telehealth projects.
We’re funding similar projects all across the country. For example, in Northern Minnesota, Itasca Community College and Floodwood Secondary School will receive funds to conduct video conferences between parents, teachers and students. Those struggling with coursework will benefit from distance tutoring and remediation courses. In Coos County, Oregon, DLT funds will enable the local fire-service and air-evacuation organizations to establish a distance learning network across six counties in Southwestern Oregon to teach fire suppression science, search and rescue, and first responder training to rural fire departments and port districts.
We can Win the Future when all young Americans have the very best education in the world, no matter where they live in this country. We need to invest in them, think creatively, and leverage 21st century solutions like high-speed internet build a strong and stable economy for generations to come.
To find out more about USDA Rural Development’s Distance Learning and Telemedicine Program click here. To see a list of all of the projects funded through the December 8, 2011 announcement please click here.