Champaign – U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development State Director Douglas Wilson has announced the investment of more than $1.1 million in Illinois as a part of Distance Learning & Telemedicine Grants for Illinois.

It includes $224,243 for the Lake Land Community College District to create a Distance Learning network linking the college to five rural high schools in Shelby, Coles and Fayette counties.

The college will deliver General Education Core Curriculum dual core courses to students.

“Today’s announcement is another way that USDA Rural Development is improving rural connectivity in Illinois. Almost 50,000 students will soon have access to college level courses. Healthcare and substance abuse centers will have the ability to offer greater care to rural residents. DLT, along with other USDA RD broadband programs are moving rural areas forward by creating paths for higher education and greater healthcare services,” Wilson said.

The Distance Learning and Telemedicine program helps rural communities use the unique capabilities of telecommunications to connect to each other and to the world, overcoming the effects of remoteness and low population density.

For example, this program can link teachers and medical service providers in one area to students and patients in another. Below are other examples of the projects that will receive USDA funding.

· Arukah Institute of Healing Inc will use $105,074 to provide counseling and mental health services from a hub to a four-county area. The hub site has four clinicians designated to provide telehealth services to remote, rural areas. The project will help the Arukah Institute treat longstanding behavioral health issues and opioid/substance use disorders in four north-central Illinois counties.

· Jersey Community Hospital District will use $250,727 to purchase and install telemedicine equipment to improve medical services in Jersey and Greene counties.

· McLean Country Unit District No. 5 will use $326,327 to enable the McClean County CUST 5 School District to create an interactive Distance Learning network. Additional educational opportunities will be made available to students in six school districts in central Illinois. The schools will be connected through the distance learning network and advanced placement courses will be offered, as well as dual enrollment courses that will allow high school students to earn college credits. Over 17,000 students in the participating schools will benefit.

· Community Health a& Emergency Services Inc will use $212,097, this Rural Development investment will enable Community Health and Emergency Services, Inc. to implement a new telemedicine project to treat opioid abuse. It will also be used to re-establish pharmacy services in Cairo. This project will serve 8,195 individuals in the seven southernmost counties of Illinois.

In April 2017, President Donald J. Trump established the Interagency Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity to identify legislative, regulatory and policy changes that could promote agriculture and prosperity in rural communities. In January 2018, Secretary Perdue presented the Task Force’s findings to President Trump. These findings included 31 recommendations to align the federal government with state, local and tribal governments to take advantage of opportunities that exist in rural America. Increasing investments in rural infrastructure is a cornerstone recommendation of the task force.

To view the report in its entirety, please view the Report to the President of the United States from the Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity (PDF, 5.4 MB). In addition, to view the categories of the recommendations, please view the Rural Prosperity infographic (PDF, 190 KB).

USDA Rural Development provides loans and grants to help expand economic opportunities and create jobs in rural areas. This assistance supports infrastructure improvements; business development; housing; community services such as schools, public safety and health care; and high-speed internet access in rural areas. For more information, visit www.rd.usda.gov.

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