The Distance Learning and Telemedicine (DLT) Grant Program is designed to provide access to education, training, and health care resources for rural Americans. The DLT program provides 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 that students, teachers, medical professionals, and rural residents can use. Grants may be used to fund telecommunications-enabled information, audio and video equipment, and related advanced technologies which extend educational and medical applications into rural areas. Grants are 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.
The DLT program is legislatively authorized to provide three kinds of financial assistance:
The DLT Grant Program is primarily focused on providing equipment that operates via telecommunications to rural end-users of telemedicine and distance learning. It is useful to keep in mind that while the equipment is eligible, it does not fund the telecommunications that connects that equipment. DLT does not fund communications links between sites (wireless or wire-line) and it does not fund telecommunications or Internet connections. Grants (and eligible matching funds) can be expended only for the costs associated with the initial capital assets associated with the project.
There are three categories of eligible purposes:
The following purposes are considered ineligible grant purposes:
Further, grant funds shall not be used to finance a project, in part, when the success of the project is dependent upon the receipt of additional financial assistance under DLT or is dependent upon the receipt of other financial assistance that is not assured.
Because this program is intended to fund end-user equipment at specifically identified sites, applications which propose to provide only web-based services which are universally available are ineligible. This type of project does not have a defined service area and the beneficiaries can be located anywhere, including urban areas.
2016 awards can be seen at https://www.rd.usda.gov/files/DLT_2016_Awards.pdf.
2017 awards can be seen at https://www.rd.usda.gov/files/DLT_Awardees_2017.pdf.
2018 awards can be seen at https://www.rd.usda.gov/files/DLT_Awards_2018.pdf
2019 awards can be seen at https://www.rd.usda.gov/files/USDARD_DLT_CHART112019.pdf.
2020 awards can be seen at https://www.rd.usda.gov/sites/default/files/USDARD_DLT_CHART10072020.pdf
2021 awards can be seen at https://www.rd.usda.gov/sites/default/files/usdard_dltchart10_22_2021.pdf
Fiscal Year 2022 Community Project (Earmark) funding goes to Illini Community Hospital (IL), Ben Archer Health Center (NM), New Mexico State Library (NM), Vermont Program for Quality Health Care (VT), West Virginia University (WV), Shepherd University (WV), and Pocahontas County Board of Education (WV).
An interactive map of DLT grant recipients can be found at https://ruraldevelopment.maps.arcgis.com/apps/webappviewer/index.html?id=15a73830555645ae93d2fa773ed8e971.
The DLT Grant Program is a competitive program. Applications are scored in objective and subjective categories.
Rural Development Key Priorities: The Agency encourages applicants to consider projects that will advance the following key priorities (more details available at https://www.rd.usda.gov/?priority-points):
Special Consideration Points will be awarded if the proposal addresses either of the following:
To be eligible for a grant, your organization must:
Equipment vendors, system integrators, and other businesses whose purpose in the proposal is to sell equipment or technological services to support applicants cannot themselves be applicants.
Additional Eligibility Criteria: Minimum Rurality Score - In order to be eligible to receive a grant, an application must receive a minimum of 20 points as an average score for all end user sites included in the project. For end user sites to recieve a score, the must not be classified as "urban". An urban area is any area of the USA included within the boundaries of any incorporated or unincorporated city, village, or borough having a population in excess of 20,000 inhabitants or part of an urbanized area contiguous and adjacent to a city or town having a population in excess of 50,000 inhabitants.
The application window for FY23 is from December 1, 2022, through January 30, 2023. A similar window is anticipated annually.
Approximately $64 million is available for awards in FY23. Of that total, $12 million is intended for telemedicine projects that provide substance use disorder treatment services in rural areas. The remaining $52 million is available for all eligible projects.
Individual awards range between $50,000 and $1,000,000 each. Projects last up to 3 years.
The DLT program requires applicants to provide match funds that total 15% of the grant request. Matching contributions generally must be in the form of cash. However, in-kind contributions used solely for DLT eligible purposes may also be considered. Federal funds are not eligible as matching funds, unless specifically authorized otherwise by Federal statute. E-rate funds are federal funds and cannot be applied as matching funds to a DLT project.
The most recent awards are available to view here: https://www.rd.usda.gov/sites/default/files/usdard_dltchart10_22_2021.pdf