U.S. Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich have announced $447,748 in funding for a distance learning initiative for the Navajo Technical University in Crownpoint, N.M. This funding, made possible through the Department of Agriculture’s Distance Learning and Telemedicine program, is intended to counteract high unemployment and poverty in the Navajo community. Quality distance learning is an important tool, especially for the large Navajo Nation, where many students have to travel long distances in order to take classes on campus. Distance learning allows students to work during the day and take classes at night, and can also provide access to certificate programs and courses to enhance job skills.
“It is critical that New Mexico’s tribes have the tools to build sustainable economies and vibrant businesses, and this grant for distance learning will help the Navajo Nation provide the technical education students need to compete in today’s economy,” Udall said. “The Navajo Technical University fills a vital role in educating tomorrow’s tribal leaders, and as a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, I am proud to support investments in tribal education and advancement.”
“These funds for distance learning programs will provide critical education and training tools to the Navajo community and should be a model for other colleges serving rural areas,” Heinrich said. “By increasing access to education programs and job training, especially in telemedicine, we improve the quality of life and future economic prospects for our communities.”
Through the Distance Learning and Telemedicine (DLT) program, USDA has awarded grants to provide rural Americans access to medical services, improve educational opportunities, and support Native American communities. The program helps rural communities acquire distance learning and telemedicine technologies to better serve rural residents.