08.30.10

Leahy: Drug Abuse Program Grants To Vermont Will Help ‘Drill Down’ On Solutions To Substance Abuse And Drug-Related Crime

Two Chittenden County anti-drug coalitions are getting grants from the federal Drug Free Communities program, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) announced Monday.  The grants for countering drug and alcohol abuse, totaling just over $200,000, have been awarded to the Essex CHIPS coalition ($125,000) and the Burlington Partnership for a Healthy Community ($93,917).  The Vermont coalitions are two of only 169 programs across the country to receive funding, while more than 500 programs applied. 

The Drug Free Communities grants are administered by the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) and are awarded annually to will help community groups work to prevent and reduce drug, alcohol, and tobacco abuse among youths and to strengthen community anti-drug coalitions among community organizations, law enforcement agencies and state anti-drug offices.

Leahy chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, which has jurisdiction over the program, and he also is a senior member of the Appropriations Committee, where he has led in building coalitions to make funding the program a priority in annual budget decisions.  Leahy also has convened a series of Judiciary Committee hearings in Vermont – in Rutland, St. Albans and Barre -- to identify the best approaches to curbing drug-related crime in rural areas.  ONDCP Director Gil Kerlikowske, who testified at the hearing in Barre, notified Leahy of the two Vermont grant awards.  Earlier this year Leahy introduced the Drug Free Communities (DFC) Enhancement Act, which would authorize additional grants to assist community coalitions that help to lower substance abuse, while also sharpening the focus of the grant program on emerging and local drug issues.  

Leahy said, “The heart of any successful effort to combat drug abuse lies within the community.  Experience shows that when we use collaborative approaches to address these problems, drug and alcohol use declines --  it does not matter whether you are in a rural community or a big city.  These grants will help us drill down in putting those lessons to work.”

Fourteen coalitions in Bennington, Cabot, Hardwick, Isle La Motte, Ludlow, Manchester Center, Milton, Montpelier, Northfield, Shelburne, St. Albans, Wilmington and Windsor already have received $1.2 million in federal grant money from the Drug Free Communities program.  Since the Drug Free Communities program was created in 1998, ONDCP has awarded some 1,700 grants nationwide.   

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