BANGOR — USDA Rural Development State Director Virginia Manuel has announced that Western Foothills Regional School Unit 10 in Dixfield has been selected to receive a Distance Learning and Telemedicine Grant in the amount of $498,907 and Maine School Administrative District 61 in Bridgton has been selected to receive a Distance Learning and Telemedicine Grant in the amount of $496,078.

The grants are part of a total of $2,587,919 awarded to Maine organizations this year for six projects in Maine funded under the competitive program.

Manuel said of the RSU 10 grant, “This USDA Rural Development Distance Learning and Telemedicine Grant will be an integral part of curriculum for public schools in western Maine, providing students with access to valuable health and wellness education. In addition, the funds will provide adult education for paramedic and first responder training, helping to ensure the health and safety of these rural Maine communities.”

Western Foothills Regional School Unit 10 Superintendent Dr. Craig King said, “The DLT grant is a wonderful opportunity for RSU 10. Our students will now have more access to a wider variety of instruction and they will be able to interact and learn with students from throughout our large, rural school district.”

USDA Rural Development funds will be used to equip public schools in Oxford County, in western Maine, with videoconferencing systems to implement a distance learning initiative for health and wellness education and paramedic training.

Regional School Unit 10 is hosting the project with School Unit 72 in conjunction with the River Valley Communities Coalition, which has its headquarters and project hub site in Rumford.


Med-Care Ambulance in Mexico will provide paramedic and first responder training. Video endpoints for the initiative will be placed in public schools in Buckfield, Dixfield, Rumford, Fryeburg, Peru, Mexico, Denmark and Oxford, serving a total of 3,334 students.

Manuel said of the SAD 61 grant, “This USDA Rural Development Distance Learning and Telemedicine Grant will serve the vital purpose of helping to ensure 6,545 Maine children receive education through state-of the-art technology to help them make healthy life choices that will impact their well-being and future. Investing in health education for our children today can help build stronger, healthier Maine communities now and for years to come.”

Maine School Administrative District 61 Director of Instructional Technology Joshua Sturk said, “Through the use of telecommunication technologies made possible by this grant, we can level educational playing fields across any geographical distance to provide greater learning opportunities to our students. This grant targets specific health and wellness needs that our district has made a priority in recent years. We’re excited that we will be able to integrate technology alongside our current initiatives.”

Maine School Administrative District 61 will utilize Rural Development Distance Learning and Telemedicine Grant funds to provide video conferencing equipment and educational technology for a large health-related and academic distance learning project in Western Maine hosted by Maine School Administrative District 61, partnering with District 55, Regional School Units 57 and 61, and with Goodall Hospital at Sanford.

The Partners for Healthier Communities program will present courses and learning events that focus on reducing obesity, preventing smoking and substance abuse, and increasing physical activity and other healthy lifestyle choices and will reach 6,545 students in 17 middle and elementary schools in the towns of Naples, Sebago, Bridgton, West Baldwin, Cornish, Hiram, West Newfield, Waterboro, Shapleigh, Poland and Lyman.

Equipment includes desktop video conferencing units, laptops and other devices. Once the schools are connected into the video network teachers and classes will be shared to make most efficient use of every available teaching resource.

Other recipients under this award are: Community Health and Counseling Services, $103,235; Maine School Administrative District 54, $499,278; Maine School Administrative District 37, $490,625; Island Institute, $499,796.

More information on rural programs is available at a local USDA Rural Development office or by visiting

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