USRA Announces Receiving Mentoring Grant Award

USRA Coalition Receives Grant

It is with great pleasure that Upper Saddle River and Allendale announce that the White House Drug Policy Office has awarded a Drug Free Community Mentoring (DFC-M) grant in the amount of $150,000,($75,000 in 2017 and $75,000 in 2018) to their newly formed coalition, the Upper Saddle River/Allendale Municipal Alliance (USRA Municipal Alliance).

Only two other towns in the United States were awarded the Mentoring grant in 2017, one in Florida and the other in New Mexico.   At the completion of the two years, the Alliance will be eligible to apply for a Drug Free Community (DFC) grant in the amount of $125,000 annually for five years, or a total of $625,000. At the completion of the five years, an additional five year grant is possible in order to continue the programming.

The purpose of the Drug-Free Communities Mentoring (DFC-M) Program is, through the assistance and expertise of existing DFC recipients, to encourage the development of new, self-supporting community coalitions that are focused on the prevention of youth substance use. Mahwah, a previous recipient of the DFC-M and current DFC grant recipient, will serve as mentor to the new USRA Municipal Alliance.

“Allendale and Upper Saddle River extend our gratitude to Mahwah’s Municipal Alliance and Police Chief Batelli.  Mahwah generously provided the application funds for Upper Saddle River and Allendale. We are excited about this partnership and look forward to learning more about the excellent education and awareness programming already established in Mahwah.”

“The partnership between Upper Saddle River and Allendale is a true win since we share our high school and student/parent community. The intent is to make programming we provide at the regional level through the DFC –M funds to be inclusive of Ho-Ho-Kus and Saddle River students. Our goal is to make our communities safe and drug-free,” said Joanne Minichetti, Mayor of Upper Saddle River.  “Prevention is a powerful tool to counteract drug use in our communities, and we will use this funding to help our young people make healthy choices regarding substance use.”

Prescription drug abuse prevention is one of the core measures of effectiveness for local DFC coalitions, and coalitions nationwide have led innovative opioid prevention initiatives. DFC’s 2016 National Evaluation End-of-Year Report found that at least 97% of middle school and 93% of high school youth report that they have not illicitly used prescription drugs in the past 30-days in DFC communities. Additionally, perception of risk of illicit prescription drug use was generally high (80-84%). The report also found that perceived risk of illicit use of prescription drugs was very similar to perceived risk of tobacco use (80-83%), and was higher than for both alcohol (69-73%) and marijuana use (53-73%). Finally, the report detailed that peer disapproval of illicit prescription drug use increased significantly for both age groups within all DFC coalitions.

The Drug-Free Communities (DFC) Support Program, created by the Drug-Free Communities Act of 1997, is the Nation’s leading effort to mobilize communities to prevent youth substance use. Directed by the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), in partnership with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), the DFC Program provides grants to community coalitions to strengthen the infrastructure among local partners to create and sustain a reduction in local youth substance use.

According to 2016 data, an estimated 3,200 young people per day between the ages of 12 and 17 used drugs for the first time in the preceding year. Research also indicates that high school seniors are more likely to smoke marijuana than cigarettes. 88% of DFC coalitions indicate that they focus on heroin, prescription drugs, or both, which is reflective of the ongoing national opioid crisis. Furthermore, 16% of high school seniors in 2016 reported binge drinking (i.e., 5 or more drinks in a row) in the past two weeks.

Recognizing that local problems need local solutions, DFC-funded coalitions engage multiple sectors of the community and employ a variety of environmental strategies to address local drug problems. Coalitions are comprised of community leaders, parents, youth, teachers, religious and fraternal organizations, healthcare and business professionals, law enforcement, and media. By involving the community in a solution-oriented approach, DFC also helps those youth at risk for substance use recognize that the majority of our Nation’s youth choose not to use drugs.

DFC-funded community coalitions continue to make progress towards achieving the goal of preventing and reducing youth substance use.

More information on the program can be found at

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