Distance Learning and Telemedicine Program (DLT)
A - Primarily intended to fund technology
Department of Agriculture (USDA)
The Distance Learning and Telemedicine (DLT) Grant Program is specifically designed to assist rural communities in acquiring distance learning and telemedical technologies so that local teachers, and medical service providers who serve rural residents can link to other teachers, medical professionals, and other needed expertise located at distances too far to access otherwise.
The DLT program is legislatively authorized to provide three kinds of financial assistance:
- 100% grant;
- Combination Loan-Grant; and
- 100% Loan
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:
- Acquiring, by lease or purchase eligible equipment - If leased, the cost of the lease during the three year life of the grant is eligible. The purpose of the DLT Grant program is to deliver education or medicine between remote sites via telecommunications, not simply to furnish educational or medical technology. The following are examples of eligible equipment:
- Computer hardware and software
- ‹Audio and video equipment
- Computer network components
- Telecommunications equipment
- Data terminal equipment
- Interactive audio/video equipment
- Inside wiring
- Acquiring instructional programming that is a capital asset (including the purchase or lease of instructional programming already on the market). Renewals of instructional programming are not eligible. Also, expenses (such as those for tuition, fees for coursework on a per course basis, or fees for cultural events or virtual field trips) are not capital assets and therefore, are not eligible
- Providing technical assistance and instruction for using eligible equipment including any related software; developing instructional programming that is a capital asset and providing engineering or environmental studies relating to the establishment or expansion of the phase of the project to be financed with the grant. The costs for this category cannot exceed 10% of the grant amount requested or 10% of the eligible matching funds calculated separately.
The following purposes are ineligible:
- To pay for medical equipment not having telemedicine as its essential function;
- To pay salaries, wages, or employee benefits to medical or educational personnel;
- To pay for the salaries or administrative expenses of the applicant or the project;
- To purchase equipment that will be owned by the local exchange carrier or another telecommunications service provider unless that service provider is the applicant.
- To duplicate facilities providing distance learning or telemedicine services in place or to reimburse the applicant or others for costs incurred prior to RUS' receipt of the completed application;
- To pay costs of preparing the application package for financial assistance under this program;
- For projects whose sole objective is to provide links between teachers and students or between medical professionals who are located at the same facility;
- For site development and the destruction or alteration of buildings;
- For the purchase of land, buildings, or building construction;
- For projects located in areas covered by the Coastal Barrier Resources Act (16 U.S.C. 3501 et seq.);
- For any purpose that the Administrator has not specifically approved; or
- To pay the cost of recurring or operating expenses for the project (except for leases provided for);
History of Funding
Previous awards can be viewed at http://www.rd.usda.gov/files/DLTAwardees_2015.pdf
The DLT Grant Program is a competitive program. Applications are scored in objective and subjective categories.
Special consideration will be offered to applications that contain at least one end-user site within a trust area or a tribal jurisdictional area, a Strike Force area or a Promise Zone. The application will need to include a map showing the end-user site(s) located in the Special Consideration area, as well as the geographical coordinate(s), and physical street address(es) of the end-user site(s).
- Objective Criteria: statistical in nature and evaluated by comparing statistics on numerical data.
- Rural Area (Rurality)
- Economic Need (NSLP)
- Matching Funds (Leveraging)
- Subjective Criteria: rendered by a judgment, an informed opinion based on various factors, including experience, knowledge and statistical comparisons
- Additional NSLP
- Needs for Services and Project Benefits
- Cost Effectiveness
- Special Considerations
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 or affiliates of the applicant.
- Be legally organized as an incorporated organization or partnership; an Indian tribe or tribal organization, as defined in; a state or local unit of government; a consortium; or other legal entity, including a private corporation organized on a for-profit or not-for-profit basis. Each applicant must provide written evidence of its legal capacity to contract with the Rural Utilities Service to obtain the grant and comply with all applicable requirements.
- Either operate a rural community facility, or deliver distance learning or telemedicine services to entities that operate a rural community facility or to residents of rural areas at rates calculated to ensure that the benefit of the financial assistance is passed through to such entities or to residents of rural areas.
Applications were due March 14, 2016. A similar deadline is anticipated annually.
Awards will range between $50,000 and $500,000. The minimum award is $50,000. The DLT program requires a minimum match of 15%. Higher matches receive more points.
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