Many organizations want to invest in telecommunication technology, but lack adequate funding to do so, which makes grant acquisition essential. The USDA Rural Utilities Service – Distance Learning and Telemedicine Grant (RUS-DLT) is a major contributor in this area. The grant exists to support and improve telemedicine and distance learning services in rural areas via telecommunications, computer networks and related advanced technologies used by students, teachers, medical professionals and rural residents.

Remoteness and low population density can greatly influence a community’s access to education and medical services. By linking teachers and medical services providers to students and patients in other areas, residents tap into the benefits of modern telecommunications for education and healthcare—two key areas for economic and community development.

The RUS-DLT is an annual grant that awards anywhere from $50,000 to $1 million dollars to eligible applicants. While the funding deadline will likely be set for spring of 2022, organizations need to start preparing now. There will be between 40 and 60 grants awarded, paid out over three years, requiring 15 percent cost matching. This funding presents a meaningful opportunity to improve a community’s access to educational and medical services, but the information gathering and application process is detail intensive and time consuming. Therefore, it is critical to prepare all applications before the official deadline is announced, especially considering the required turnaround is typically 60 days or less.

Using the Funds for Audio and Visual Equipment

In addition to instructional programming and technical assistance, the RUS-DLT grant funds can be used to purchase the audio and video equipment professionals need to deliver outstanding telemedicine and distance learning experiences. With professional-grade equipment supporting them, medical professionals and educators can focus all their efforts on delivering a best-in-class experience, no matter their location. Modern telecommunications offers so much potential to shatter the limitations of traditional community services. Ensuring organizations have the appropriate equipment to make most of this potential is a critical step forward.

Who can Apply?

Eligible applicants include most entities that provide education or health care through telecommunications, including most State and local governmental entities, federally recognized tribes, non-profits, for-profit businesses and a consortium of eligible entities. All grant applications are vetted and accepted through a competitive process.

Preparing for the RUS-DLT Grant and How Poly can Help                                                                                                                                       

If an eligible organization wants to take advantage of the RUS-DLT Grant, they need to start preparing their application now. They must quickly evaluate their needs, ensure their project aligns with the scope of the funding, gather information for their proposal and keep their eyes peeled for the deadline announcement. There are plenty of online resources to help organizations prepare for grant application, but it’s not always the hands-on and detail-oriented help you need to navigate the process. Poly’s Grant Assistance Program (PGAP) team offers a wide array of free services to guide you through the grant process—from grant identification and application to post-award administrative support:

Get Qualified Early

A critical part of preparing for the RUS-DLT Grant is making sure your organization qualifies to apply for the funds. Our consultation experts specialize in this and are happy to ensure that the RUS-DLT grant is the right fit for your organization. If it’s not, the expert will guide your organization toward other funding opportunities that are a better fit.

Post-Award Support

Although preparing for grant application is the most pressing issue right now, many organizations soon realize that they would benefit from some assistance during the reimbursement, audit and post-award paperwork process. Fortunately, PGAP consultants are well-prepared for this. They are happy to support your organization, ensuring you’re in compliance and that your project continues to move forward.

Connect with Poly’s Grant Assistance Team

For more information or support on how to construct that justification, or on grant funding in general, please feel free to contact the Poly Grant Assistance Program (PGAP) at

Want to learn how a PGAP partnership helped another organization expand their telemedicine and distance learning capacity? Click here.