Grant Spotlight

Rural Schools Eligible for USDA Telecommunications Grants; Deadline is Jan. 30

Now through Jan. 30, K–12 school districts in rural areas (serving populations of 20,000 or less) are invited to apply for the USDA Distance Learning Grants program. 

Eligible applicants include most entities that provide education through telecommunications, including state and local governmental organizations (including K–12 schools), federally-recognized tribes, nonprofit organizations, and groups of eligible entities working together, USDA said.

Grant funds can be used to purchase or support any of the following:

  • Audio, video, and interactive video equipment
  • Broadband facilities used for distance learning (up to a certain percentage)
  • Computer hardware, network components, and software
  • Instructional programming
  • Limited technical assistance and instruction on how to use distance learning equipment
Funds are awarded through a nationally-competitive process and require 15% matching funds from each awardee; matching funds cannot be from any other federal grant. Awards will vary from $50,000 to $1 million per awardee.

Projects that promote equity and economic opportunity in rural America will be given priority, specifically projects that advance the following key priorities:

  • Supporting health care needs stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic, and helping prepare for future pandemic events
  • Ensuring racial equity
  • Rebuilding the rural economy
  • Addressing the climate crisis

USDA Rural Development has been appropriated approximately $64 million this fiscal year for the this grant program. The agency noted it “will make available any unused appropriations from prior fiscal years and can increase funding if additional appropriations become available.”

Learn more and apply online at the USDA website.

For questions, contact your local USDA Rural Development representative.

About the Author

Kristal Kuykendall is editor, 1105 Media Education Group. She can be reached at [email protected].