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March 25, 2021 - MERCED, Calif. — Merced College will enhance many of its education and outreach offerings to rural areas thanks to a $436,772 grant from the U.S. merced collegeDepartment of Agriculture.

 The award is one of 86 announced in February as part of the USDA’s Distance Learning and Telemedicine Grants program, which funds projects designed to help rural education and health care entities remotely reach students, patients and outside expertise.

 “As we continue to work through the COVID-19 pandemic, it has become clear that rural areas like Merced County are in desperate need of better technology to enable distance learning and telemedicine,” Merced College President Chris Vitelli said. “This funding will allow us to provide even more robust offerings for Merced College students as well as rural high school students and adult learners in our region.”  

 The funding will enable programming at county high schools, as well as the college’s Los Banos Campus and Business Resource Center:

  •  Interactive distance learning via videoconference to four rural high schools, including dual credit courses provided by Merced College and high school courses shared between schools. The high school courses could include shared Advanced Placement courses, core courses, and electives.
  •  Expanded adult education and workforce development programs in rural areas via distance learning technology, including opportunities for workforce development, certificate programs, and community education.
  •  Increased and enhanced learning opportunities for students at the Los Banos Campus, providing students with expanded educational opportunities at their local campus and limiting the need to travel to other locations to complete degree requirements.
  •  Additional community resources such as access to workforce development courses, training for first responders, government meetings with state officials.

 The USDA Distance Learning Grant will connect more individuals to personalized education and bring greater opportunities to the residents of Merced County. It is estimated that the Merced College project will serve nearly 4,000 students, including more than 1,600 students at four rural high schools: Dos Palos, Granada, Le Grand and Mariposa. It will also serve nearly 800 adults with professional development, workforce development, first responder training and more.
Source: Merced College