The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Utilities Service (RUS) has released a Notice of Solicitation of Applications (NOSA) announcing that it is accepting applications for Fiscal Year 2018 (FY 2018) for the Distance Learning and Telemedicine (DLT) Grant Program (the DLT Grant Program). Now that the FY 2018 Appropriates Act has passed, the total amount of funding under this NOSA will soon be posted on RUS’s website. DLT Grants are designed to provide access to education, training, and health care resources for rural Americans, and once established, they provide financial assistance to encourage and improve telemedicine and distance learning services in rural areas through the use of telecommunications, computer networks, and related advanced technologies by students, teachers, medical professionals, and rural residents. DLT awards are granted through a competitive process, and they may be used to fund telecommunications-enabled information, audio and video equipment, and related advanced technologies which extend educational and medical access into rural areas.
Grants are primarily intended to benefit end users in rural areas, who are often not in the same location as the source of the educational or health care service. For Fiscal Year 2018, the minimum amount of a grant is set at $50,000, while the maximum amount is set at $500,000. Eligible applicants must be: (1) an incorporate organization; (2) an Indian Tribe or tribal organization; (3) a state or local unit of government; (4) a consortium, as defined in the Commission’s rules; or (5) any other legal entity, including a private corporation, organized on a for-profit or not-for-profit basis. Grant applicants must also demonstrate matching contributions of at least 15 percent of the grant amount requested. RUS maintains an Application Guide specifically for the DLT Grant Program. Unlike other RUS grant and loan programs, applications for the DLT Grant Program can be filed both electronically and through paper submissions. Paper applications must be postmarked no later than June 4, 2018 while electronic applications must be received no later than June 4, 2018.