The federal Department of Agriculture is accepting applications for its Distance Learning and Telemedicine Grant program, which provides increased access to education, training and health care resources in rural areas.

USDA Rural Development State Director Virginia Manuel said, “This valuable USDA Rural Development grant provides Maine’s rural health care and schools with an important opportunity to expand quality health services and education to Maine’s rural areas that are often remote, underserved, or have less access to these critical resources.”

USDA’s Rural Utilities Service, a Rural Development agency, is making $19 million available for FY 2015. The Distance Learning and Telemedicine Program finances telecommunications equipment, computer networks and advanced technologies for use by students, teachers, medical professionals and rural residents. Minimum grant amounts are $50,000; maximum amounts are $500,000 for FY 2015.

Maine organizations have had great success with this program in the past, with Maine ranking number one in either dollars invested or number of projects for 7 of the last 8 years. Under last year’s round of funding, Maine was number one in the nation in terms of dollars invested, with $2,587,919 awarded year for six projects in Maine.

The application deadline is July 6.