The Rockville Centre Coalition for Youth, which has worked for over six years to raise awareness and prevention of youth substance abuse in the community, is set to continue that mission for another five years, thanks to federal funding from the Drug-Free Communities Support Program. The nonprofit organization has been awarded $125,000 per year through 2025.
“This additional five years of funding will enable us to continue our prevention education,” Ruthanne McCormack, the coalition’s project coordinator, said, “and fulfill our mission to plan and implement strategies to prevent and reduce youth substance use and its associated consequences.”
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services awarded a total of nearly $375,000 to three organizations in Nassau County. The Marion and Aaron Gural JCC in Cedarhurst and the Family and Children’s Association in Mineola also received about $125,000 each.
“Preventing youth substance abuse in our communities is critical, and these grants will help us do just that,” U.S. Rep. Kathleen Rice said in a press release. “I commend the Rockville Centre Coalition for Youth for their tireless work combating youth substance abuse and I congratulate them on winning this highly competitive federal grant.”
The Drug-Free Communities program is the nation’s leading effort to mobilize communities to prevent and reduce substance abuse among youth. Created in 1997 by the Drug-Free Communities Act, it provides grants to community coalitions to strengthen the infrastructure among local partners in that effort. Each grant recipient will use its funding for programming to combat youth substance abuse in the communities they serve.
Jeanne Mulry, program director for the Rockville Centre Coalition for Youth, helped write the grant for the first round of funding, which McCormack said “really put us on the path to success.” Mulry said she was proud that the organization had been approved for more funding.
“Ruthanne and I were there at the beginning, and we know a lot of coalitions that don’t get [the funding],” Mulry said. “A lot of times, I think the second round is harder to get than the first round. I’m excited for the next five years.”
The coalition was formed in August 2014, when several community groups joined forces to address the problems with teen substance abuse, and the first grant application was approved in September 2015. Members include the RVC Youth Council, an independent, teen-focused nonprofit that provides substance-free activities and programming for teens, as well as the village Police Department, the school district, Confide Counseling, Mercy Hospital, the Lions Club, the Hispanic Brotherhood, St. Agnes Cathedral, Temple B’nai Sholom-Beth David, the Martin Luther King Center and the Economic Opportunity Commission.
Since its inception, the coalition has worked on communitywide anti-drug initiatives such as “sticker shock” campaigns, billboards, presentations to parents and teens and in-school workshops aimed at educating youth about the dangers of substance use. A new billboard was installed on Jan. 28 on Oceanside Road, by the Rockville Centre Recreation Center, with the message “You Are Not Alone” and the phone number for the Long Island Crisis Center. The intent is to let people know that it’s OK to ask for help when you’re struggling with anxiety, depression or substance use, according to McCormack.
The organization is also a member of the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America, and several members, including McCormack, take part in two weeks of intensive training and attend the CADCA National Leadership Forum each year. This week, McCormack is attending the leadership forum virtually, and on Tuesday she was preparing to meet with U.S. Senators Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand to advocate against vaping and the legalization of marijuana.
Go to rvccoalitionforyouth.org for more information.