Massachusetts Schools Receive Unprecedented Funding to Prevent Opioid Addiction Under New AG Healey Initiative
$700,000 Awarded to 41 Organizations Across the State for School-Based and Community Prevention Programs
BRAINTREE – School children in districts across Massachusetts will receive an unprecedented investment in evidence-based substance use prevention education under a new initiative announced today by Attorney General Maura Healey to tackle a significant unmet need in the state’s battle against the ongoing opioid crisis.
In announcements across the state in the coming days with local leaders, educators, students and law enforcement partners, AG Healey will distribute $700,000 in funding directly to school districts, nonprofits and community organizations to fund two years of prevention programming to 41 grantees in Massachusetts.
“We will never get control of this epidemic until prevention becomes a priority,” said AG Healey. “With these grants, we will partner with schools and community organizations to empower young people and protect the next generation from falling victim to this public health crisis. But, these grants are only a start, we must continue to address this unmet need.”
The AG’s Office announced the statewide grants program at a launch event at the Braintree South Middle School with Braintree Mayor Joe Sullivan, Superintendent of Schools Frank Hackett, Norfolk District Attorney Michael Morrissey, along with students and representatives from the recovery community. The AG’s Office will also host regional announcement events this week in Salem, Barnstable, Gardner, and Marlborough to highlight the implementation of local prevention programs for young people across the state.
“This grant is greatly appreciated and will help our families of Braintree,” said Mayor Sullivan.
“The roots of opiate addictions often stretch back into high school. We know that from investigating fatal overdoses – 58 so far this year,” Norfolk District Attorney Michael W. Morrissey said. “As shocking as it seems, this education and prevention work has to be targeted at kids. To break this epidemic long term, tomorrow’s addictions need to be prevented right now. Braintree and Weymouth have been working hard on this problem for a long time, it is good to see that work recognized with this grant.”
“It is so critical that we enhance the preventative measures to try to stop addiction before it starts,” said Joanne Peterson, Founder and Executive Director of Learn to Cope. “Prevention has to begin in the classroom with involvement from local communities. I thank AG Healey for this initiative and am pleased to see additional funding go toward this important work to provide cities and towns with the support, education, and resources they need.”
AG Healey’s Youth Opioid Prevention Grant Program will provide funding over two years to 25 school districts as well as law enforcement agencies, nonprofits, and community health organizations. The programs will deliver evidence-based prevention programs to students at all grade levels about the dangers of opioid and other substance use. The AG’s Office announced the grant program in November after reaching a landmark settlement with CVS over its opioid dispensing practices.
In Norfolk County, the Weymouth Police Department will implement an evidence-based, substance use prevention curriculum designed for middle school students. Braintree Public Schools will use funding develop curriculum and programming for opioid awareness and prevention education for fifth grade students, and will also use the funding to provide additional professional development opportunities for the district’s staff, and work with families in the community on ways to prevent substance use.
"We are extremely grateful to Attorney General Maura Healey and her office for awarding the Braintree Public Schools with the Youth Opioid Prevention grant to improve and expand educational awareness about substance use,” said Melonie Bennett, Director of Physical Education and Health for the Braintree Public Schools. “The grant provides critical funding for the Braintree Public Schools as we continue our collaborative efforts with Mayor Sullivan and the Braintree Community Partnership on Substance Use to develop effective awareness programming and support throughout the town. The funds will significantly impact our entire school-community for years to come, and we look forward to our continued partnership with Attorney General Healey and her team.”
The programs under this grant will run through April 2019 and are being funded by settlements the AG’s Office reached with CVS Pharmacy in September 2016 and later with Walgreens in January, totaling $700,000. Following the announcement of the grant program, the AG’s Office received 120 applications totaling nearly $4 million in requested funding from schools, community health centers, municipalities, police departments, and nonprofits.
Young people are particularly vulnerable to the risks of substance use. Ninety percent of all adults struggling with addiction started using when they were under the age of 18, and 50 percent were under the age of 15. Studies have shown that effective substance use education and prevention programming can significantly decrease the risk of addiction among young people.
In Massachusetts, opioid overdoses kill more than five people every day. The Massachusetts Department of Public Health estimates that 1,979 people – the highest number ever recorded in the state and a 13 percent increase year-over-year – died from opioid-related overdoses in 2016. Massachusetts has lost over 5,000 people to opioid overdoses in the last three years.
The Youth Opioid Prevention Grant program is another way AG Healey is working to address the addiction crisis in Massachusetts. The AG’s Office is looking at a host of other practices, including marketing by pharmaceutical companies, criminal drug trafficking, and barriers to substance use treatment. The AG's Office also continues fund affordable access to Narcan for all first responders.
The organizations receiving grant funding from the AG’s Office are:
Barnstable Public Schools
Monomoy Regional School District
Berkshire District Attorney’s Office
Bristol County District Attorney’s Office
New Bedford Police Department
Norton Police Department
Martha’s Vineyard Public Schools
Beverly Public Schools
City of Haverhill / Haverhill Public Schools
City of Newburyport / Newburyport Public Schools
Essex District Attorney’s Office
Gloucester Public Schools
Marblehead Public Schools
North Andover Public Schools
Salem Public Schools
Franklin County Regional Council of Governments
Agawam Public Schools
Westfield Public Schools
Longmeadow Public Schools
Belchertown Public Schools
Collaborative for Educational Services
Lowell Public Schools
Malden Public Schools
Marlborough School District
Medford Public Schools
Braintree Public Schools
Weymouth Police Department
Brockton Public Schools
Hull Public Schools
Plymouth County District Attorney’s Office
South Shore Charter Public School
Chelsea Public Schools
East Boston Neighborhood Health Center
Peer Health Exchange
St. Mary’s Center for Women & Children
Auburn Public Schools
Narragansett Regional School District and Gardner Public Schools
The Southeast Asian Coalition of Central Massachusetts
Worcester County District Attorney’s Office