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ADA – The East Central University Brandon Whitten Institute and Pontotoc County Drug Free Coalition has received a $625,000 grant for five years ($125,000 each year) to involve and engage the campus and Ada community in preventing substance abuse among youth.

The grant came through the Drug-Free Communities (DFC) Support Program, of the Office of National Drug Control Policy.

“We are not powerless against the challenge of drug use among young people here at ECU and in Ada,” said Holli Witherington, executive director of the Brandon Whitten Institute. “Research shows that prevention is the most effective tool we have to reduce the terrible consequences associated with drug use among young people. This new funding will allow the Brandon Whitten Institute and the Pontotoc County Drug Free Coalition to help place more young people on the path toward success and enable them to live healthier and safer lives.”

According to Witherington, funds from the grant will be used to perform environmental prevention strategies for things like compliance checks, retailer education, promotion and education on Social Host laws, etc. A fulltime grant coordinator will be hired as well.

“The DFC grant will help us provide youth leadership retreats to help train youth on how they can be involved in prevention strategies and educating others,” Witherington said.

Gil Kerlikowske, director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, recently announced $19.8 million in new Drug-Free Communities (DFC) Support Program grants to 147 communities and 19 new DFC mentoring grants across the country. The awards announced are in addition to the $59.4 million in continuation grants simultaneously released to 473 currently-funded DFC coalitions and four DFC mentoring continuation coalitions.

The DFC Program provides grants of up to $625,000 over five years to community coalitions that facilitate citizen participation in local drug prevention efforts. Coalitions are composed of community leaders, parents, youth, teachers, religious and fraternal organizations, healthcare and business professionals, law enforcement, media and others working together at the local level.

“President Obama believes in the pursuit of an America built to last – a nation with an educated, skilled workforce that has knowledge, energy and expertise to success in a highly-competitive global marketplace,” said Kerlikowske. “For too many young people, this future is clouded by drug use, which inhibits their ability to remain healthy and safe and to achieve their full potential. We congratulate this coalition on its work to raise a generation of young people equipped to remain drug free and ready to meet the challenges and successfully compete in the 21st century.”

The key to preventing substance abuse is harnessing the talents, resources and interests of all segments of local communities, according to Pamela S. Hyde, administrator for Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

“America’s families, schools, places of worship, healthcare providers, community centers, and other civic organizations all play an essential role in helping our youth avoid illicit substance abuse,” said Hyde. “SAMHSA’s partnership with the Office of National Drug Control Policy in supporting community coalitions has proven effective in uniting communities to develop effective approaches for fostering drug-free environments for young people across the nation.”

The DFC Program was created by the Drug-Free Communities Acts of 1997 and reauthorizes by Congress in 2001 and 2006. Since 1998, ONDCP has awarded nearly 2,000 DFC grants to local communities in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, Palau, American Samoa, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the Federated States of Micronesia.

“This is a community grant and will help us with the overall goals of substance-abuse prevention, including training for law enforcement and medical professionals,” said Witherington.



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