Finger Lakes Community College will receive a federal grant to equip schools in Ontario, Wayne, Seneca and Yates counties with videoconferencing equipment that can be used for college classes, telemedicine and mental health and substance abuse prevention and counseling.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced the $968,805 award on Dec. 6 as part of its Distance Learning and Telemedicine Program. This project builds on the college’s expertise in online learning, and more recent work to extend the college’s reach in rural areas in cooperation with libraries, workforce offices and other sites.
“FLCC is committed to overcoming barriers to education, including lack of broadband access and transportation,” said Brie Chupalio, FLCC Chief Advancement Officer. “This project connects remote locations with meaningful options for healthcare, education and training.”
The following school districts will be part of the distance learning network FLCC is building: Bloomfield, Dundee, Honeoye, Lyons, North Rose-Wolcott, Penn Yan, Red Creek, Seneca Falls, Sodus and Williamson.
The network will allow schools to offer more FLCC concurrent enrollment classes, meaning those that satisfy both high school and college requirements at the same time. Smaller districts often do not have enough teachers to offer the available range of concurrent enrollment classes. The new technology will allow students in one or more small districts to remotely join a class in real-time at another school, thereby expanding students’ opportunities without the need for transportation out of their home districts.
Schools will have the ability to let community members use the technology for telehealth visits or to take other types of FLCC courses.
The network also includes Wayne-Finger Lakes BOCES Technical and Career Centers in the towns of Seneca, Ontario County, and Williamson, Wayne County.
Family Counseling Services of the Finger Lakes in Geneva and the Finger Lakes Area Counseling and Recovery Agency (FLACRA) in Clifton Springs will deliver mental health and substance abuse prevention and counseling services to schools as part of the project.
The college will order the equipment at the start of the new year with a goal of installation in mid-2024. Programming could begin as early as fall 2024.