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Response to Opioid Epidemic

Our nation is in the midst of an unprecedented opioid epidemic. This growing crisis is causing devastating effects, placing burdens on workplaces, the health care system, families, states, and communities. Through the commitment of approximately 300,000 Senior Corps and AmeriCorps members, CNCS continues to support substance abuse prevention, education, reduction, and recovery programs through local nonprofits, faith-based, and community organizations across the country.

View Press Release 

National Service Responds to Opioid Crises - Fact Sheet

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This year, CNCS has invested more than $10.5 million in opioid-related AmeriCorps and Senior Corps projects. This investment supports 1,200 AmeriCorps and Senior Corps members in more than 150 communities across 45 states. CNCS has also made available up to $4.1 million in education scholarships for the AmeriCorps members funding by these grants to help them pay for college, vocational training, or pay back student loans.

Last fall, CNCS awarded grants to Governor-appointed state service commissions to develop AmeriCorps programs that address the opioid epidemic and the agency continues to call on organizations to use national service as a solution to the challenging opioid crisis.

National Service Programs in Action

  • Operation UNITE provides a regional, community-based response to the prescription drug epidemic in southern and eastern Kentucky. Since 2008, Operation UNITE has engaged 44 full-time AmeriCorps members annually in providing drug abuse prevention education and math tutoring to thousands of elementary school students. Last year, AmeriCorps members taught drug education curricula to 3,378 students, recruited 8,240 adult volunteers for school activities, sponsored 53 UNITE Clubs with 4,353 students, and tutored 1,573 students in math, with test scores showing an average growth of 30.2% in math knowledge.
  • The Tribal AmeriCorps Program led by the Northwoods NiiJii Enterprise Community is addressing substance abuse in 11 federally recognized tribal nations in Wisconsin. AmeriCorps members implement evidence-based strategies to reduce substance abuse and promote healthy lifestyles, leading youth engagement, prescription drug abuse prevention, parent networks, and public awareness initiatives. Since 2010, 42 AmeriCorps members have provided 100,000 hours of service, recruited 400 volunteers, strengthened tribal anti-drug coalitions, and served more than 7,400 parents and youth.
  • Senior Corps RSVP volunteers in Indiana are developing a program with Walgreen Drugs for the collection of unwanted medications. These volunteers will also coordinate with TRIAD, the National Sheriff’s Association, and the Governor’s Commission for a Drug-Free Indiana to conduct education presentations alongside members of local law enforcement.
  • AmeriCorps members serving with the Police Assisted Addiction & Recovery Initiative (PAARI) across Massachusetts to address the growing opioid epidemic. With member support, each police department will have the ability to directly refer and place 50 or more people into treatment.
  • AmeriCorps members serving with Los Angeles’ Community Coalition for Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment will employ outreach and education strategies in targeted South Los Angeles neighborhoods. They will also leverage an additional 110 residents as community leaders that will engage and recruit other South Los Angeles residents to participate in community and trust building activities.

National Service in the News

Rio Arriba County to receive new federal help with opioid crisis
The Albuquerque Journal (NM), August 18, 2017
Rio Arriba County will soon have new federal support to combat its ongoing addiction epidemic through AmeriCorps VISTA’s first opioid-centric program in New Mexico. According to a Wednesday news release, a grant from AmeriCorps VISTA – a program that places teams within communities who then work alongside local organizations to address specific issues – will provide seven volunteer positions annually over the next five years to work with county-based organizations that are combating effects of opioid addiction.

AmeriCorps members to help with New Hampshire drug crisis
Associated Press (NH), August 9, 2017
Sixteen AmeriCorps members will be helping 480 people with substance use disorders and behavioral health needs in New Hampshire. Mary Hitchcock Memorial Hospital in Lebanon, a Dartmouth-Hitchcock facility, is getting a grant from the federal agency that oversees volunteering and service programs specifically aimed at combating the state's opioid epidemic. AmeriCorps members will serve as community health workers to help patients overcome barriers to treatment, such as housing, literacy and transportation problems. The hospital will provide $240,000 in matching support and other resources in addition to the $315,000 in federal funds.

Richmond to receive additional federal resources to fight opioid epidemic
The Augusta Free Press (VA), August 2, 2017
Governor Terry McAuliffe today announced that the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) has awarded federal AmeriCorps funding to the City of Richmond Human Services Commission to combat the opioid epidemic and its devastating effects on families, communities, workplaces, health care, and the state. The City of Richmond, through the Richmond AmeriCorps Healthy Futures Project, will utilize a coalition to provide education, prevention, reduction and recovery services. The grant, totaling $254,397 includes $138,186 in federal grants and $116,211 was matched by the coalition partners. “The opioid epidemic continues to take a toll on communities throughout the Commonwealth,” said Governor McAuliffe.

Marshfield Clinic Health System starting new program to curb drug abuse (WI), May 4, 2017
A new program from Marshfield Clinic Health System will be launched in September to help people suffering from substance abuse in northern Wisconsin. MCHS Recovery Corps program is a part of AmeriCorps, a national service network launched in 1994 under the Clinton administration as part of the National and Community Service Trust Act. Since then, nearly 1 million AmeriCorps members have contributed approximately 1.2 billion hours in service across the country. The new program is recruiting 20 full-time AmeriCorps members to work as recovery coaches throughout the area served by the HOPE Consortium, a partnership of 10 different organizations working to address issues related to opioid abuse.

Drug Addiction Prevention Pilot Program Announced
WNBF (NY), April 10, 2017
AmeriCorps members are to work with the Rural Health Network of South Central New York, United Health Services, Southern Tier AIDS Program and Lourdes Hospital as well as the County to get services to users and to provide education on the dangers of opioid use, especially in rural areas. Broome County’s Opioid Abuse Council was awarded $15,000 dollars by the Care Compass Network to start the program. Four AmeriCorps Program Associates will be enrolled full-time or 6 months with a living allowance stipend of $6,265 plus a Segal Education Award of $2,887.50.

As overdose deaths rise, Colorado plans addiction-prevention efforts
The Durango Herald (CO), September 13, 2017
With the opioid epidemic reaching unprecedented national levels and more heroin flowing into Southwest Colorado, additional addiction-prevention work is set to start this fall. In October, 12 AmeriCorps members will be hired across the state as part of the Colorado AmeriCorps Community Opioid Response Program, and two will be hired for a year to work in Southwest Colorado to organize prevention events and education. The program is funded through federal and state grants. AmeriCorps members will organize educational events taught by experts for doctors and other prescribers around the use of opioids, such as oxycodone. Members will also organize education around safe storage and disposal of medication for the community and events for students, said Kathleen McInnis, executive director of Southwestern Colorado Area Health Education Center.

Current Funding Opportunities

  • The 2018 AmeriCorps Targeted Priority funding opportunity is open to nonprofit and faith-based organizations, institutions of higher education, state and local governments, and Indian tribes.  The competition includes a priority for AmeriCorps projects that seek to reduce or prevent prescription drug and opioid abuse.  Applications are due on May 2, 2018. More details can be found here
  • AmeriCorps VISTA has prioritized projects seeking to engage members to create or expand opioid prevention and recovery projects in low-income communities. More information about VISTA is available here.


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