White House Rural Council Blog

  • White House Rural Council’s Health IT Initiative Helps Community Colleges Tailor Programs to Workforce Needs

    Ed. note: This is cross-posted from the U.S. Department of Education Blog

    With a major workforce transition underway in many rural hospitals and health clinics, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) hosted a conference call with staff from nearly 80 rural community colleges recently to discuss federal resources available to expand training for health information technology workers.

    Developing an adequately trained health IT workforce in rural areas is imperative, and new programs are available to provide incentives for eligible health care providers and hospitals to adopt and meaningfully use electronic health records.  The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that the health IT workforce will increase by 20 percent by the year 2016.  A significant part of that growth will come in rural areas, which are served by approximately 2,000 rural hospitals, 3,700 Rural Health Clinics and approximately 3,000 Community and Migrant Health Centers that are either located in or serve rural communities.

  • One Year Later: What We’re Doing on the White House Rural Council

    As someone who was born and raised on a ranch in Colorado, I know firsthand that rural communities are home to some of the most hard-working and self-reliant Americans.  I also know that the struggles facing these families are not unlike those confronting Americans across the country: we want our children to receive a world-class education; we want access to quality and affordable health care; we want job opportunities and vibrant local economies; and we want to leave a stronger America for our children and grandchildren to inherit.

  • Key Federal Agencies Collaborate to Provide Funding and Support for Rural America

    On Tuesday, June 12, three federal agencies announced a new project to assist high-need rural areas facing chronic poverty along the U.S.-Mexico border. This new project is part of a series of initiatives delivered through the White House Rural Council, which recently released a report detailing the steps President Obama and this administration have taken to support rural America.

    The Border Community Capital Initiative (“Border Initiative”) is a collaborative effort among the Department of Agriculture-Rural Development (USDA-RA), Department of Treasury’s Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI), and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). These three federal agencies signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) and, together, will increase economic development activity at a community level throughout these high need areas, known as colonias.

    Colonias are communities within 150 miles of the U.S.-Mexico border. These high-need communities frequently lack fundamental resources such as sanitary housing, access to potable water, and adequate sewage systems. Under the Border Initiative, up to $200,000 will be made available to nonprofit and tribal financial institutions serving colonias. These funds will be used for direct investment and technical assistance focused on providing access to valuable resources that these communities lack.

    Previous federal programs with similar goals have faced significant barriers in implementation, such as limited capacity among organizations serving colonias and a lack of stable funding available to them. The Border Initiative is tailored to correct for this by directing funds toward improving the capacity of local financial institutions to raise capital and increase lending; and boosting investment in their communities.

  • Connecting Educators, Building Communities Across Rural America

    Ed. Note: This is cross-posted from the ED Blog  

    In an increasingly interconnected world, we can no longer allow geography to be a barrier to education and opportunity in rural America.

    Through the national broadband plan and unprecedented investments in education reform, the Obama administration is leveraging the power of technology to overcome distance and increase collaboration to accelerate student achievement in rural schools.

    Today, the White House Rural Council announced the U.S. Department of Education's new online community of practice group for rural schools. Virtual communities of practice provide a platform for educators to connect to resources, tools, colleagues, experts, and learning activities, both within and beyond schools.

  • Innovative Financing: Creating Access and Opportunity For Small Business In America's Rural Economy

    Ed. Note: This is cross-posted from the SBA Blog

    This week marks the one-year anniversary of the creation of the White House Rural Council, an Administration-wide initiative to support and strengthen America’s rural economy. And our progress over the last year is detailed in a new report released today. 

    As part of our efforts, we are making sure that more entrepreneurs who live in rural areas have the access and opportunity they need to start, build and grow their businesses.

    We know innovation and entrepreneurship doesn’t just take place in New York and Silicon Valley. It’s happening in West Virginia, all along the I-79 High Tech Corridor, where I was last month. It’s happening in Iowa and Georgia and Nebraska.

    And if we want to continue to grow our economy—and be more globally competitive—we need to make sure that we can harness the potential of entrepreneurs and small businesses in all of these communities.

    To make that possible, the Small Businesses Administration is working to increase the flow of capital to rural areas. In fact, SBA has helped put more than $400 million in investment capital directly into the hands of high growth rural businesses through our agency’s Small Business Investment Companies (SBICs) since last October.

  • White House Rural Council: Rural Stakeholders Meeting

    On Tuesday, May 1st, the White House Rural Council, along with Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, hosted a group of 24 rural health care providers and experts to discuss issues around access to care and improving health outcomes in rural communities.

    Rural physicians, nurses, mental hospital administrators, and rural health associations from across the country gathered to discuss a range of rural health issues--from the need to expand broadband to support telehealth services in California, to ways to improve health outcomes by focusing on nutrition and healthy living choices in Ohio.

    During the meeting, Secretary Sebelius, announced $10.4 million in funding for 70 Rural Health Outreach Grants.  These grants will address the needs of a wide range of population groups; including low-income families and individuals, the elderly, pregnant women, children, minorities and individuals with special health care needs.

    Both Sebelius and Vilsack remarked that in their experience as Governors, they learned firsthand how important health care is for a vibrant rural community. They both agree that without access to quality, affordable, health care rural communities cannot compete for growth and economic development.  

    A recent RAND study that shows that 5.5 million rural Americans will now have access to health coverage because of the passage of the Affordable Care Act. In addition, 394,000 young adults in rural areas have gained coverage thanks to being able to stay on their parent’s insurance plan. Click here for more information on how this law is making a difference in the lives of millions of people like you.

    Health care has long been a key focus area for the White House Rural Council. In August, the Administration announced a number of policy initiatives including expanding the National Health Service Corps to Critical Access Hospitals and improving access to capital for helping hospitals and clinics leverage emerging health information technology such as electronic health records. This session served as an excellent forum to discuss important opportunities and challenges and to initiative further solutions that can help rural Americans receive the best health care possible. Stay tuned for more updates on Rural Council events and announcements.