Island Institute receives telemedicine grant

May 09, 2014

Rockland — The Island Institute, based in Rockland, has been selected to receive a Distance Learning and Telemedicine grant in the amount of $499,796. This grant is part of a total of $2,587,919 awarded to Maine organizations this year for six projects funded under this highly competitive program.

The Island Institute will use the grant to purchase video conferencing devices and hub equipment for distance learning opportunities in 15 of Maine’s island and coastal schools. The Island Institute in Rockland and the College of the Atlantic in Bar Harbor will serve as educational and equipment hubs for the schools, which include Chebeague Island, Islesboro, Long Island, Matinicus Island, North Haven, Bar Harbor, Trenton, Southwest Harbor, Isle au Haut, Frenchboro, Bass Harbor, East Machias, Jonesport, Cranberry Isles and Deer Isle.

“This is a tremendous opportunity to expand the capacity of some of the country’s most isolated schools to engage more learners of all ages and to help teachers share innovative solutions to educational challenges,” said Rob Snyder, president of The Island Institute. “The USDA Rural Development has been a huge champion of this effort in the past, and the new Distance Learning and Telemedicine grant will give a significant boost to Maine island and remote coastal communities.”

The educational content consists of science, technology, engineering and mathematics, among other subjects. The grant will assist teachers with access to a special program to receive professional development training and certification. In addition, courses at college-level are available to adults to for certification classes and other post-secondary training in their own communities.

USDA Rural Development State Director Virginia Manuel said, "This USDA Rural Development Distance Learning and Telemedicine Grant of nearly half a million dollars will support The Island Institute’s valuable mission to sustain Maine’s island and remote coastal communities. I am so pleased that 15 of Maine’s rural island and coastal communities will benefit from distance learning technology, providing fundamental education opportunities which will support a bright future for students and adults alike.”

Other recipients under this award, which totals $2,587,919 (Including The Island Institute) are:

· Community Health and Counseling Services, $103,235

· Maine School Administrative District 54, $499,278

· Maine School Administrative District 37, $490,625

· Maine School Administrative District 61. $496,078

· Western Foothills Regional School Unit 10, $498,907

The grant program provides funding to rural hospitals, clinics, schools and libraries for equipment and technical assistance for telemedicine and distance learning. Grant recipients must demonstrate that they serve rural America, prove there is an economic need and provide at least 15 percent in matching funds.

President Obama’s plan for rural America has brought about historic investment and resulted in stronger rural communities. Under the President’s leadership, these investments in housing, community facilities, businesses and infrastructure have empowered rural America to continue leading the way – strengthening America’s economy, small towns and rural communities. USDA’s investments in rural communities support the rural way of life that stands as the backbone of our American values.

USDA Rural Development invested $462.5 million in rural Maine communities last fiscal year in the areas of homeownership, business assistance, energy and renewable energy development, water and wastewater and community facilities. The agency has area offices located in Presque Isle, Bangor, Lewiston and Scarborough, as well as a state office in Bangor. There are 59 employees working to deliver the agency’s Housing, Business, and Community Programs, which are designed to improve the economic stability of rural communities, businesses, residents, and farmers, and improve the quality of life in rural Maine. Further information on rural programs is available at a local USDA Rural Development office or by visiting USDA Rural Development's web site at rurdev.usda.gov/me.

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