Today, U.S. Representative Antonio Delgado (NY-19) announced a $683,692 award from the Distance Learning and Telemedicine Grant program at USDA Rural Development to supplement programs at Otsego Northern Catskills BOCES (ONC BOCES). These funds will be used provide STEM courses with more rigorous curriculum to public schools in the ONC BOCES network within Delaware, Otsego, Schoharie, Sullivan, Madison, and Chenango counties. Specifically, ONC BOCES will use these federal dollars to replace the hardware for their video conference services that allow rural schools to share teaching resources and reach students in remote areas. This new equipment will also allow the organization to provide virtual training sessions in opioid addiction and overdose prevention for community members, school staff, and emergency personnel.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has laid bare the urgent need for federal investments in rural broadband focused on closing the digital divide and ensuring our young people have educational opportunities. I am proud to announce this federal grant for the Otsego Northern Catskills BOCES program that will help more students and teachers access the virtual classroom, and develop critical skills in STEM fields. These funds will also allow the organization to offer remote training sessions in opioid addiction and overdose prevention,” said Rep. Delgado. “I will continue to champion initiatives at the federal level that invest in broadband infrastructure and increase access to high-speed internet. I look forward to visiting the ONC BOCES facilities soon and seeing this new equipment in use.”
“The USDA Rural Utilities Service grant provides expanded STEM-focused distance learning opportunities for students in our region. In addition to robust course offerings that prepare our students for college and the workforce, the grant provides funding for remote training in opioid addiction and overdose prevention for community members, school staff, and emergency personnel. This grant expands our regional capacity to provide opportunities to our students and we are grateful to the USDA for providing this funding,” said Dr. Catherine Huber, District Superintendent, ONC BOCES.
The Distance Learning and Telemedicine Grant program at USDA Rural Development is designed to help rural communities use the unique capabilities of telecommunications to connect to each other and to the world. This grant funding will be used to supplement a nearly 30 year program run through ONC BOCES that help students in rural areas access college-level courses.