Prevention coalition awarded $100,000 grant

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The Grand Futures Prevention Coalition of Grand, Routt and Moffat counties received a $100,000 Drug-Free Communities grant to continue supporting the prevention and reduction of drug, alcohol and tobacco use among local youths.

Grand Futures Prevention Coalition Director Sandy Visnack said she had been hoping the nonprofit organization would receive the grant, especially because there were several new application requirements.

"This is great news for the anti-drug efforts of Grand, Routt and Moffat counties. We provide crucial alcohol and drug prevention work in these counties, and this continuation of funding will help us expand our efforts and reach more youth," Visnack said.

This is the 13th year the coalition has applied for and received the federal Drug-Free Communities grant. Grand Futures is eligible for the grant for two more years.

Visnack said Grand Futures plans to use the money, which is almost one-third of its annual budget, for overhead costs, to build and sustain the coalition and to fund awareness campaigns and start task forces such as the new Underage Alcohol Use Task Force.

Visnack said the task force is combining students, community members, political leaders and others to talk about how to address underage drinking in the community.

The task force was created after nine out of 11 local liquor stores sold alcohol to underage buyers during a routine police compliance check. The results concerned Visnack.

"We haven't had the best history with these compliance checks," she said. "Usually, only about half of the stores fail, but this time was really bad."

Visnack said that in addition to funding the task force, the money will be used for classes for parents and their children. Usually, the classes have themes and include visits from local experts who give presentations and answer questions parents have about substance abuse and children.

Visnack was concerned that Grand Futures wouldn't receive the Drug-Free Communities grant this year because instead of having to raise 75 or 100 percent in matching funds, the grant required the coalition to raise $125,000 locally.

"It's been an interesting process this year. We were sort of counting on getting it, but nothing is ever for sure in the grant-writing community," she said.

In addition to having to raise more money locally, Visnack said, the grant required 80 percent of the coalition's services to be indirect, meaning that programs and classes cannot be taught directly by coalition staff. Classes and programs can be planned and supported by the coalition, but outsiders have to lead them.

Visnack is confident that the services provided by the coalition are crucial to providing education and resources about how to prevent substance abuse.

"These types of services are needed in these communities," she said. "To make sure we are covering all of our bases, it really takes all the domains that touch a child's life to be on board to make a difference."

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