Based on my experience working with several clients, the Distance Learning and Telemedicine (DLT) Grant Program is a challenging grant to apply for. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s DLT grant opportunity is "designed to assist rural communities in acquiring distance learning and telemedical technologies so that local teachers and medical service providers who serve rural residents can establish interactive video conferencing links to teachers, medical professionals, and other needed expertise located at distances too far to access otherwise.” This is not an application for beginners or the disorganized writer!
Here are five tips for writing a successful DLT application:
- Read and adhere closely to the Guide and Toolkit, especially noting fund uses and the minimum 15% match with awards ranging from $50,000 to $500,000. For example, Electronic Medical/Health Records are not eligible under the 100% grant program, while capital assets such as video equipment, computer hardware, software and network components are eligible.
- Start with a detailed, organized Work Plan that aligns closely with the Checklist and scoring rubric: This is an instructive application with a specific Guide and Toolkit to be followed for a winning proposal.
- Work closely with a vendor or technology contact who can assist with the “Telecommunications System Plan (TSP)”: This is a critical, underlying component of this application requiring expertise in hardware, software, training and technology. A graphic representation of the TSP is a must for strengthening the application.
- Ensure that as the applicant you are a fit and align with use of eligible funds: All my clients have been either rural schools or health care providers challenged with connectivity issues.
- Follow the “3 Rs” of grant seeking (Relationships, Research and wRiting!)- Be sure to connect with the DLT assigned contact person for questions and technical assistance. Do your research with the DLT Resources that are available on the website (i.e., current grant application, toolkit, budget worksheets, DLT award summaries, grant agreement, and related Links). After cultivating the funder relationship, and doing your research, then wRiting is much easier!
Following these 5 tips can increase your likelihood of receiving a DLT grant award. I wish you success in your grant seeking!
Click the button below to learn more about the scoring criteria for the DLT Grant Program:
About the Author
Linda Gatten Butler, MSW, ACSW, LISW-S, has a master's in social work from Ohio State University, is the founder and past president of the Miami Valley Ohio Chapter of the Grant Professionals Association (GPA), past national GPA board member, and a licensed independent social worker supervisor. She is a senior fundraising consultant and President of Butler Consulting since 1994, specializing in grant seeking, training, and managing services, with more than 40 years of clinical, administrative and fundraising experience in both the private and public sectors for over 200 non-profit, for-profit and public agencies nationwide, primarily in Ohio’s Miami Valley.