Pine Cove Pulse

2016 Distance Learning & Telemedicine Grant: Information on the RUS Grant

Posted by Brandon Vancleeve

Application Window : January 12, 2016 to March 14,2016

About the RUS Grant

The RUS-DLT (Rural Utilities Service-Distance Learning and Telemedicine) grant is specifically designed to support rural communities to overcome the effects of low populations and remoteness by utilizing advanced telecommunications to connect to each other and the world. The RUS grant can be used to provide students exposure to enhanced learning opportunities and to improve medical care to patients through telecommunication technologies. The RUS-DLT grant is open and available to most entities in rural communities that are committed to employing telecommunications to improve education and health care.

The RUS-DLT program has helped to create engaging learning experiences for students in rural schools by connecting them to the world via virtual fieldtrips and by introducing them to experts in various fields . One of our clients, the Colstrip School District, used their DLT grant to teach students about the Cheyenne language and culture (learn more on Colstrip’s experience with their case study here) by connecting them to a college professor. Imagine what you can do for your students and community by using advanced telecommunications to improve education and health care. Rural grants range from $50,000-$500,000 and require a minimum 15% match. 

The application deadline is March 14, 2016

Who Can Apply?

Applicants must be a legally incorporated organization or partnership. This can include state and local government entities, tribal organizations, both non-profit and for-profit businesses and consortia of eligible entities. Applicants must have the legal authority to provide, operate and maintain proposed services or products. Facilities financed with federal dollars are to be used for public purposes.

Eligible organizations include:

  • Local education agencies
  • Education service centers
  • Medical service and healthcare providers
  • Higher education institutions
  • Workforce investment boards
  • Federally-recognized Tribes
  • Faith-based communities

In order to be eligible, organizations must deliver or propose to deliver distance learning or telemedicine services during the life of the grant.

Eligible Equipment

  • Audio, video and interactive video equipment
  • Terminal and data terminal equipment
  • Computer hardware, network components and software
  • Inside wiring and similar infrastructure that further DLT services
  • Acquisition of instructional programming that is a capital asset
  • Acquisition of technical assistance and instruction for using eligible equipment

Examples of Distance Learning and Telemedicine Grant Awards for K-12 Schools

Distance Learning

  • Opportunity for teachers to share through different schools
  • Interactively connecting students from different educational institutions
  • Advanced placement distance learning classes
  • Vocational training and certification
  • Community outreach and education
  • Foreign language courses
  • Virtual classroom field trips


  • Providing health services through advanced telecommunications
  • Telemedicine to school-based health centers
  • Connecting specialists from urban areas to Rural health centers

What can Pine Cove do for you?

Our advanced telecommunications technology include high definition audio and video conferencing equipment. We enable your district to connect students from any location to teachers/professors on remote campuses. Healthcare experts can connect to rural community health centers to help diagnose and treat patients. Telecommunication technology improves access to education and healthcare in rural communities. We are the solution to bridging the gap for your telecommunication needs. The RUS grant is one of those technology grants for public schools in rural communities that can help everyone.

Start Applying!

Proposal tips:

  • Must be innovative and cost effective
  • Show why you need the money and how you will use it
  • Capitalize on how the grant will be used for the success of your students
  • Creativity and uniqueness gains additional points
  • Make a comprehensible and feasible plan
  • How will your program maintain sustainability throughout the life of your grant?
  • Use supporting facts and documents
  • Maintain unity throughout the proposal
  • Continue to relate back to your project need and goals
  • Document specific distance learning or telemedicine needs and how the project addresses them.
  • Quantify the project and have methods of evaluating success for the community
  • Match funds with your proposed needs
  • Be clear and concise
  • Aim for a score of 90 points or more – often this requires a leverage match of 30% or more.


  • Economic Need – 35 potential points
  • Empowerment Zones – 10 potential points
  • Leverage (match) – 35 potential points
  • Additional NSLP (National School Lunch Program) – 10 potential points
  • Needs and Benefits – 45 potential points
  • Innovativeness – 15 potential points
  • Cost Effectiveness – 35 potential points

Topics: RUS grant

Preserving Culture through Virtual Field trips: How Colstrip Uses RUS-DLT Grant Assistance

Posted by Tyler Wantulok


At Pine Cove, the majority of our clients are based in very rural areas. Often we see these isolated school districts being deprived of opportunities that larger, more urban areas possess – simply because there is less funding in smaller communities. The expenses to offer current technology, hiring specialized teachers, and giving students real-world experience are high, and the small towns are paying the price.

The RUS-DLT grant funding has been a miracle for some of our clients. For the Colstrip school district, the grant offers assistance for the school to integrate specialized learning, such as: foreign language, advanced placement courses, and interactive virtual field trips through distance learning.

Middle and High School Spanish teacher Jeannette Barreto has used distance learning to teach her students the Tango from a teacher in Argentina. Kim Yates, the school’s network technician, says the Learning Center uses video equipment daily for multiple uses, including students taking college courses.


Colstrip has even been able to communicate with and preserve the Cheyenne culture and tribal language in their school. Bill Briggs, the high school history teacher, has been using advanced telecommunications to interact with a licensed language teacher from Dull Knife College.


The students use the virtual classroom three times a week. The course is taught with total physical response, allowing them to speak, dance, and interact with the Dull Knife professor. By having the in-classroom teacher (Briggs) from Colstrip and a teacher from Dull Knife, students even learn different dialects of the Cheyenne language.

Briggs says students love the virtual interaction with tribe members, and learn much faster than using a textbook. The DLT grant has given Colstrip the chance to bring tribe members from the community to the virtual classroom, showing artifacts that can’t be brought to the classroom and teaching cultural history.

The interactive learning through telecommunications has allowed Colstrip students to learn quickly and more fluently than other schools. Colstrip competed in the Cheyenne-sponsored Language Bowl, where they won three years in a row – competing against other schools whose students are primarily of the Cheyenne tribe.

Interested in applying for the RUS grant? Learn more about requirements and the application process here!

Topics: RUS grant

Utilizing technology grants for public schools is a great way to stay connected

Posted by Tyler Wantulok

technology grants for public schools

The RUS-DLT (Distance Learning and Telemedicine) Loan and Grant Program is designed specifically to meet the education and health care needs of rural America. Through loans, grants and loan/grant combinations, advanced telecommunications technologies provide enhanced learning and health care opportunities for rural residents. Entities providing education and medical care via telecommunications are eligible. Learn how to utilizing technology grants for public schools.

Here's how two districts in Montana are utilizing RUS-DLT technology grants for public schools to implement distance learning programs to enhance the student experience:
Colstrip, MT School District is using video conferencing to enhance their Cheyenne language revitalization program. By using this technology, Colstrip is able to connect their kids and teachers to a college professor who utilizes the total physical response method to reintroduce Cheyenne students in their district to their language and culture. The kids really enjoy the interaction with the professor and his teaching method has created a championship Cheyenne language team. The professor is also able to share Cheyenne artifacts that can not leave the college with the students via video. Going forward, the district hopes to collaborate with other districts and schools to share resources to grow this language revitalization program. Colstrip has embraced this technology and is really taking advantage of it. Recently students were treated to Tango classes direct from a teacher in Argentina.

The 7th graders at Anderson School in Bozeman, MT were able to benefit from a recent 8th grade field trip to New York City. Using video conferencing the 7th graders were able to ride the ferry, see the Statue of Liberty and tour the city with the 8th graders. Anderson School has also taken a virtual field trip to the Baseball Hall of Fame and had a video presentation from a paleontologist from the Museum of the Rockies.

The RUS-DLT Grant Program is open to all rural schools looking to use technology to bridge the gap in teaching resources they have at their immediate disposal. By taking advantage of distance learning opportunities, any rural school district can provide students immediate access to the people, places and experiences that make a lasting impression.

Pine Cove has assisted over 145 schools receive over $6 Million in RUS Grant funding. Our grant consultants can help in the organization, implementation and procurement of your RUS Grant initiatives.      

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Topics: RUS grant, Video Conferencing

Remote control: Pine Cove Consulting doesn't need a central location to provide great service

Posted by Tyler Wantulok

Brandon Vancleeve Vice President of Pine Cove Consulting

Marissa Mayer, the 37-year-old chief executive of Yahoo, raised eyebrows when she announced in February that Yahoo employees would no longer be allowed to work from home.

“To become the absolute best place to work, communication and collaboration will be important, so we need to be working side by side. That is why it is critical that we are all present in our offices,” Mayer’s memo said. “Some of the best decisions and insights come from hallway and cafeteria discussions, meeting new people, and impromptu team meetings. Speed and quality are often sacrificed when we work from home. We need to be one Yahoo! and that starts with physically being together.”

Not surprisingly, Mayer’s edict rankled working parents and other advocates of workplace flexibility. But it caused a few chuckles at one Billings company.

Pine Cove Consulting, which designs and manages technology solutions for school districts and private business throughout the region, just might be the poster child for the work-at-home movement. Most of Pine Cove’s 20 employees are spread across Wyoming and Montana in nearly a dozen locations and work from their homes. But don’t get the impression that they’re left in the dark. They remain in close touch via video conferencing and other forms of electronic communication.

“This video medium allows us all to get together, and it’s fantastic,” said Rick Vancleeve, founder and chief executive of Pine Cove Consulting.

Working from the basement office in his home in Billings, Vancleeve can easily communicate with one or more employees by video to discuss projects and efforts to bring in new business.

Full Story: ... 8b1491.html

By Tom Howard





Topics: Pine Cove, RUS grant

Dr. Ikegami lecturing at Anderson School for rural communities

Posted by Tyler Wantulok

A note from the Superintendent at Anderson Elementary School, Jeff Blessum:

On Thursday,  January 31st, Anderson School students and teachers went to Kumamoto Japan and the Mifune - Town Museum through the lecture of Dr. Naoki Ikegami.  His power point presentation showed slides of active volcanoes, dinosaur dig areas and future sights where dinosaur fossils could be found.  

In addition, thanks to Pine Cove Consultants, Anderson students in Kindergarten and first grade and students in DuBois, Wyoming, were able to view the presentation with telepresence equipment.  

Since receiving the $500,000 RUS Grant two years ago, Anderson School has purchased laptop computers, iPads, document cameras, servers and increased its bandwidth to meet the needs of the students and increased use of the internet. Pine Cove has been present every step of the way helping with configuration, software updates and hardware demands.  When the server was down a quick call to Brandon Vancleeve brought immediate results or an honest answer, "I will check with Dan and get right back to you!"

Here is the Press Release for the event:


January 9, 2013 Bozeman, MT –  In July of 2012, Museum of the Rockies at Montana State University signed an agreement establishing Mifune Dinosaur Museum in Kumamoto Prefecture, Japan, as a sister institution with the Museum. In furthering the museums’ joint efforts in cooperation and exchange of exhibits, research and educational outreach, Dr. Naoki Ikegami, Chief Curator at the Mifune Dinosaur Museum, will be speaking to second- through eighth-grade students at the Anderson School in Bozeman on Thursday, January 31, from 9:30 to 10:15 AM.
Dr. Ikegami’s presentation, “Digging Dinosaurs in Kumamoto, Japan.” will be about dinosaur discoveries in Japan as well as the collaboration between the Mifune Dinosaur Museum and Museum of the Rockies in advancing the exchange of research, culture and scientific information. Dr. Ikegami will be using a translator for his talk with the children.

“This will be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for our students,” said Jeff Blessum, Superintendent of Anderson School. “Not only will this be an invaluable learning experience for the children of Anderson, but we’ll also be able to broadcast Dr. Ikegami’s lecture to other schools and their students at a later date.”

In February of 2012, Pat Leiggi, MOR Director of Exhibits and Administrative Director of Paleontology, and Carrie Ancell, Senior Fossil Preparer at MOR, spent several days at the Mifune museum providing training and guidance to the museum’s staff. Mr. Leiggi also spoke to Japanese students at a public lecture while there as part of the educational outreach and exchange between the two museums.

Dr. Ikegami will be joined by Mr. Shinsuke Masunaga, Executive Director, Mifune Dinosaur Museum and Superintendent of Schools, Mifune Town, and will be in Bozeman for several days working with MOR’s paleontology department on their next combined fossil project. 

Dr. Naoki Ikegami is a Japanese paleontologist and educator who serves as Chief Curator at the Mifune Dinosaur Museum in Kumamoto, Japan. After finishing graduate school at Kumamoto University in 1993, he spent a year teaching at the junior high school in Kumamoto City, followed by four years as a staff researcher and a supervisor at the Board of Education in Mifune Town. Since 1998 he has held a position at the Mifune Dinosaur Museum, and has served for the past several years as chief curator. 

Dr. Ikegami's research is focused on the evolution of vertebrates and paleoenvironments in the Cretaceous Period, and he has conducted several dinosaur excavations near Mifune Town. His most current research is focused on the reconstruction of the terrestrial ecosystem in the early, Late Cretaceous of East Asia. 

In 2011, he initiated the fossil preparation project with the Museum of the Rockies at Montana State University in Bozeman, Montana, and he is a chief planner for the construction of a new dinosaur museum in Mifune Town that will open to the public in April, 2014. 

Dr. Ikegami talking to Rural Communities


Click below to see how we can help your District in rural communities today!

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Topics: Pine Cove, RUS grant

Pine Cove Instrumental in $500k Tele Med Grant for YBGR

Posted by Tyler Wantulok

The Following is a press release that gives more detail toward a grant award YBGR just received from HRSA. We are very excited by this opportunity to work with so many great partners to provide easier and better access to mental health and other healthcare services through tele-medicine and creating school-based health centers for children in southwest and south central Montana.

For Immediate release:

YBGR Receives $500,000 Federal Grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) for Tele-Medicine: For the next 2 years Yellowstone Boys and Girls Ranch will partner with Head Start, Billings Clinic, St. Vincent Health Care, Office of Public Instruction and several rural school districts to set up tele-medicine units and establish standards and certification for school-based health centers. Pine Cove Consulting of Billings was instrumental in the receipt of this grant.

The grant is for equipment only.  There will be tele-med units located in each of the following locations:  YBGR Academy and Clinic, both located on 72nd Street west of Billings, YBGR’s Community Based Services offices located at the Garfield Resource Center on 1st Ave South, and YBGR’s regional offices in Lewistown, Livingston, and Dillon. Office.  Several school districts will have tele-med units where YBGR provides school based services, including Red Lodge, Columbus, Lewistown, Livingston, Roundup and Lockwood.  There will also be units at all six Head Start sites including Red Lodge, Lockwood, Laurel, Joliet, Hardin and Billings.

YBGR is extremely excited about this opportunity to provide easier access to mental health and other health care services for youth and families and particularly to those in rural areas that are not able to travel easily to for services.


The Billings Gazette did a feature article on this Grant.


Topics: RUS grant

Cisco TelePresence Video Express Partner helping rural schools.

Posted by Tyler Wantulok

Rural schools, cisco

Effective Renewal Date: 24 October 2012

PINE COVE CONSULTING has been officially renewed as a Cisco ATP - Cisco TelePresence Video Express Partner in USA.

PINE COVE CONSULTING has again met the resource requirements for the ATP - Cisco TelePresence Video Express program and has demonstrated its qualifications to sell, install, and support customers with ATP - Cisco TelePresence Video Express products and solutions in USA.


With the aid of Pine Cove Consulting, schools across those states were able to attain $5 million to fund school technology programs through the Rural Utility Services grant offered by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). 

We have gone through this process with hundreds of schools and we know the process front and back. Let us know how we can help you get funded in the next RUS grant? 

To learn more about how Pine Cove Consulting's RUS grant Case Study, click here.


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Topics: RUS grant

Accessing the World from Your Classroom with advanced telecommunications

Posted by Tyler Wantulok

It's not news that technology can give students and teachers access to the world from the classroom. We all know it's possible, but when we begin to consider the details of how it actually works the picture becomes murkier. What is the technology exactly? More importantly, how do you get the technology into your classroom?

The good news is funding is available to help purchase advanced telecommunications technology through the USDA Distance Learning and Telemedicine (DLT) Program. We laid out answers to DLT frequently asked questions below.

What is the USDA Distance Learning and Telemedicine (DLT) Program?
It is a program designed to support technology projects in economically disadvantaged and highly rural locations. The programs are designed to create distance learning and telemedicine capacity via the acquisition of equipment, instructional programs and technical assistance with eligible equipment.

How much money can be awarded through the DLT program?
Between $50,000 and $500,000.

Are matching dollars required?
Yes, a minimum of 15% is required and additional match contributions can increase overall proposal scores.

What is the deadline?
Applications are due in the Spring of 2013.

Who can apply?
First of all, to be eligible, the applying organization must be currently delivering, or proposing to deliver, distance learning or telemedicine services for the term of the grant. Applicants must be an organization legally. They can be a partnership, a Indian Tribe or tribal organization, an incorporated organization, or a consortium. They can also be a private, for-profit or non-profit, corporation. Examples include: educational services centers, higher educations institutions, education and training providers, tribal organizations.

What are some examples of successfully awarded distance learning programs?

  • Teachers shared between multiple educational institutions
  • Vocational training and certification
  • Dual credit, advanced placement distance learning classes
  • Students telecommunicating with 2 and 4 year colleges
  • Foreign language distance learning

What are some example of successfully awarded telemedicine programs?

  • Home healthcare
  • Telestroke and telecardiology
  • Specialists in urban areas connecting with rural clinics and hospitals
  • School based health centers
  • Telehealthcare services for correctional facilities

To learn more about how Pine Cove Consulting's RUS grant Case Study, click here.

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Topics: RUS grant

Breaking Down The Barriers of the Classroom with Virtual Field Trips

Posted by Tyler Wantulok

Have you ever wondered what it was like to stand outside the Colosseum in Rome? Or be on Safari in the Austrailian Outback? Or visit the Smithsonian's most recent exhibition? Maybe not, but chances are you have dreamed of some faraway land and maybe you've been lucky enough to visit in person.

Students in rural communities across the United States share those same dreams. More importantly than just dreams however, are the authentic teaching opportunities that can be fueled by those dreams and powered by distance learning. With the rise of the Internet, awareness and access to information is greater than ever. But access alone does not equate to engaging educational content. Truly breaking down the barriers of the classroom requires an experience that captures the attention of a young student. Virtual field trips are just that experience. They literally open up a whole new world of rich experiences for students. In the past, the idea of a virtual field trip was more striking that the experience itself due to technology limitations. That no longer is the case with crystal clear video and perfect sound quality of today's advanced technology.

With the rise of RUS Distance Learning (and Telemedicine) Grants, schools in rural communities now have the chance to improve their advanced telecommunication technology to take students on these virtual field trips. The Australian Outback isn't halfway around the world anymore, it's in their classroom. Learn more about Froid, MT, virtual field trips HERE

What is a RUS Grant?
A RUS grant is a grant, loan, or land-grant combination that helps rural communities secure technology with grant assistance. For communities who qualify, significant funding is available to help purchase telecommunication technology. Eligibility is based on several factors, though the program is designed to favor the most rural of communities. Urban locations can apply, but they need to achieve a higher score to secure funding.

Naturally, schools that may qualify want to understand the big picture. Download a case study on RUS grants HERE.

Below, you'll see four big questions and answers about RUS grants.

For schools that qualify, is the funding enough to make a difference?
Absolutely. The range of awards is between $50,000 and $500,000, which can make a significant impact in nearly any educational environment.

What can RUS grant funding be used for?
The grant must be used for equipment whose primary use is distance learning.

What do successful applicants look like?
Successful schools are those who first qualify strongly on the objective considerations of the grant (for example: rurality, economic needs, ability to match funding) and also demonstrate innovative thinking on the more subjective considerations. Unique equipment use and supreme cost effectiveness are examples of the kind of innovative thinking that helps create valuable proposals.

Where can schools go for grant assistance?
Organizations and IT companies with experience in RUS grant writing and funding exist to help schools in rural communities secure funding.

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Topics: RUS grant

Browning schools get grant for distance learning

Posted by Tyler Wantulok

BROWNING — Schools here will split nearly $500,000 from a distance-learning grant to ask questions and learn along with their far-away peers in real time.

The Rural Utilities Service Distance Learning and Telemedicine Grant Program provided $498,746 for BrowningHigh School, K.W. Bergen School, Vina Chattin School, Napi School, Browning Middle School and BabbElementary School.

"It's a grant to connect us with other schools, universities and Blackfeet Community College so we will be able to do videoconferencing," said Ron Tucker, institutional technology facilitator for the schools, in the Glacier Reporter. "For example, if we have a lack of a class, say German, but Belgrade has it, then we can connect with them and sit with their class virtually, and they see our students."

The grant also will pay for each building to receive a mobile unit containing a 42-inch, high-tech television, Tucker said.


Topics: RUS grant