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USDA Site USDA Distance Learning Grant – For 2017

New USDA Distance Learning Technology Grant for 2017

2017 Distance Learning Technology Grants.jpg

In 2017, the USDA will DLT (Distance Learning and Telemedicine) grant program will allocate over $17 Million Dollars in funding for distance learning and telemedicine programs. The program will help rural communities acquire technology to connect teachers and medical providers with needed expertise located at distances too far to access otherwise.

We want to help your organization secure a technology grant for distance learning and/or telemedicine. We can help with grant writing and technology planning.

 “The Distance Learning & Telemedicine (DLT) program helps rural communities acquire technologies to connect teachers and medical providers serving rural residents with other teachers, medical professionals and other needed expertise located at distances too far to access otherwise.” -USDA

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Grant Writing Tips for Technology & Cloud Based Video Conferencing:

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This year the USDA minimum grant size is $50,000 which will require a significant plan to be put in place for adding distance learning and/or telemedicine to your organization. Let’s review who is eligible for this 2017 technology grant.

• Most State and local governmental entities

• Federally recognized Tribes

• Nonprofits

• For-profit businesses

How the grant funds can be used

USDA DLT Technology Funds.jpgWe have below a list of the technology that is approved for the 2017 USDA DLT grant program. As you can see the program is liberal with the descriptions allows program applications the freedom to choose the best possible video conferencing, collaboration and cloud-based services available in the industry. So if you have already been looking into a video conferencing deployment you are comfortable with, it should be applicable.

  •  Audio, video and interactive video equipment;
  • Terminal and data terminal equipment;
  • Computer hardware, network components and software;
  • Inside wiring and similar infrastructure that further DLT services.
  • Acquisition of instructional programming that is a capital asset
  • Acquisition of technical assistance

These grant funds can also be used for non-equipment purchases / value-add services such as installation, wiring and technical services. You may want to consider working with a local company that has the ability to include installation and a support contract as part of your application.

Do not bundle cloud-based service with other skus!

This year it looks like the USDA wants to see cloud-based services as their own separate line items on your grant proposals. The USDA has processed 100’s of grants and it is becoming more common to have web-based video conferencing SKU’s included in them. These recurring services will require special attention if you want your program to get funding. We have some tips and supporting information below.

It says in the Application Guide line 1285-7:

“If, in your project, you have to pay a user fee or a license fee that is part of the equipment’s distributed processing application, or is associated with network cloud services or content processing, it must be presented as such in the application. If it is bundled with ordinary internet service, it will not be eligible for funding.”

Recurring Expenses are not included, but there is a 3 year max…

It is important to remember that recurring expenses will not be paid for by the USDA in the DLT grant. You can however, work with your vendor to bundle up to 3 years of cloud-based services into your grant proposal. If you are bundling multiple years of cloud-based video conferencing services into your grant application you will need to prove that your organize can sustain the proposed program for the proposed duration.

Note from the USDA on recurring expenses: Recurring expenses of any kind are not covered by DLT funds. An applicant who has chosen a video conferencing solution that involves as part of that solution “hosted” Cloud services, the applicant must: 1) have their vendor bundle the hosted service (Cloud) charges into a three-year package (like a warranty), and demonstrate in your application that your organization would be able to sustain the project after that grant-financed 3-year Cloud service has ended; or 2) show in the budget that the applicant (or a source other than DLT grant monies) will cover the hosted service charges.

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Categories:   Distance Learning