North Carolina is among 37 states that would receive grants earmarked for rural technology.
U.S. Department of Agriculture has issued $4 million for distance learning and telemedicine projects in a dozen North Carolina communities.
“Distance learning and telemedicine make it easier for thousands of rural residents to take advantage of economic, health care and educational opportunities without having to travel long distances,” Deputy Under Secretary for Rural Development Donald “DJ” LaVoy said in a statement.
Telemedicine allows health care providers to care for patients remotely while distance learning offers students virtual education. The USDA’s Distance Learning and Telemedicine Program funds the services in rural areas. The grants could be used for equipment, capital, software, broadband transmission facilities and other programming assets.
The program is a result of President Donald Trump’s Interagency Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity.
Established in April 2017, the task force was created to identify policy changes that could promote prosperity in rural communities.
The Distance Learning and Telemedicine Program is open to state and local governmental entities, federally-recognized tribes, nonprofits and businesses.
Most of the North Carolina grants will be used in community colleges and universities.
East Carolina University will receive the largest grant of $500,000. The school located in Greenville, North Carolina, will be using the grant to launch a Distance Learning rural Dental Care Project. It will allow dental students and graduate doctors to complete their residences in six Community Service Learning Centers in Hertford, Pasquotank, Harnett, Robeson, Mitchell and Jackson counties. The project will serve more than 5,000 residents, according to the USDA.
Students in Johnston Public Schools will also receive nearly $500,000 to create a distance learning network with another school district. The project will serve more than 147,000 students.
Beaufort County Community College, Coastal Horizons Center Inc, Center Carolina Community College, North Carolina Central University, Edgecombe County Schools, Martin Community College, Albermarle Regional Health Services, Stanly County Schools, North Carolina Central University and Wilson County Board of Education are all benefactors of the $4 million award.