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13 Cities Awarded $18 Million To Fight Drug, Alcohol Abuse

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The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has awarded grants totaling $18 million to 13 communities to begin implementing comprehensive plans for fighting drug and alcohol abuse.

The "Fighting Back" initiative-- which foundation officials call the largest private effort of its type ever undertaken--required the winning communities to include programs that target children and adolescents as part of a total plan to reduce the demand for drugs in their area.

The grants, announced last week, are for five years, and, over that time, the awards will total up to $3 million for each community. Total funding for the entire program may exceed $40 million.

Two years ago, the foundation gave 15 communities with from 100,000 to 250,000 residents one- or two-year planning grants of $100,000 a year. To qualify for the larger implementation grants, the communities were required to develop plans that included educators, community leaders, health professionals, law-enforcement officials, and clergymen. (See Education Week, Feb. 28, 1990.)

The 13 selected communities, all of which have serious drug and alcohol problems, are expected to show positive results for their efforts, the foundation said. Some of the expected outcomes include: a reduction in the use of drugs and alcohol by children and adolescents, fewer alcohol-related deaths and injuries, and a decline in health problems and crime related to drug and alcohol use.

Youth Programs Included

The 13 winning communities selected a variety of methods for fighting substance abuse, ranging from providing better treatment programs for drug abusers to establishing outreach programs for elderly people who may be addicted to prescription drugs.

Among the communities with well-developed programs for children and youths were:

  • Columbia, S.C., which will use part of its grant to involve 100 adolescents in two mentoring programs, and develop an outpatient drug-rehabilitation program for teenagers.
  • Little Rock, Ark., which is using its grant to provide comprehensive substance-abuse coverage for all 26,000 students in the city's school system. (See Education Week, Sept. 11, 1991.)
  • San Antonio, which will use part of its grant to establish peer assistance programs in its school district, and will work with recreational and cultural programs, such as Boys' and Girls' clubs, to develop drug-free after-school activities.
  • Santa Barbara, Calif., which is using its funding to target programs that reduce alcohol use by students at weekend parties, and will establish a school-based program for recovering adolescent drug addicts.

Other grant winners are: Gallup, N.M.; Kansas City, Mo.; Milwaukee; New Haven, Conn.; Newark, N.J.; Oakland, Calif.; Vallejo, Calif.; Washington; and Worcester, Mass.

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