Response to Opioid Epidemic


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National Service Responds to Opioid Crises - Fact Sheet

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Over the past two years, CNCS has invested more than $14.9 million in opioid-related AmeriCorps and Senior Corps projects. This investment supports 1,830 AmeriCorps and Senior Corps members in 134 projects in all 50 states and Washington, DC. CNCS has also made available up to $5.8 million in education scholarships for the AmeriCorps members funded by these grants to help them pay for college, vocational training, or pay back student loans. CNCS has again prioritized opioids and substance abuse prevention, reduction and recovery programming in its FY 2019 funding opportunities and encourages organizations working to combat this epidemic to explore how national service can expand their reach and impact.

National Service Programs in Action

Using National Service to Prevent and Reduce Substance Abuse
National service is a flexible, cost-effective strategy to address community needs. Organizations working to combat the opioid crisis are using AmeriCorps and Senior Corps resources through a variety of program models to expand the reach and impact of substance education, prevention, and recovery efforts.

Serving with Police Departments to Prevent Overdoses and Relapse
In Massachusetts, 25 AmeriCorps members will serve as Recovery Coaches in police departments across the state through the Police Assisted Addiction & Recovery Initiative, helping opioid users access treatment and recovery services. In Avondale, Arizona, an AmeriCorps VISTA worked with the Chief of Police to research local opioid overdoses to develop procedures and training for overdose response for law enforcement officers and volunteers.

Providing Drug Abuse Prevention and Education
In Kentucky, Operation UNITE engages 54 AmeriCorps members to provide drug abuse education and math tutoring to more than 3,300 students, recruit 8,240 adult volunteers for school activities, and sponsor anti-drug clubs involving 4,353 students. In Tennessee, Senior Corps RSVP volunteers serving with the Roane County Anti-Drug Coalition deliver drug education to military veterans and organize an annual training for more than 50 medical professionals on proper prescribing. In April 2018, they supported the collection of nearly 190 pounds of medication for safe disposal.

Building the Capacity of Drug Treatment and Recovery Organizations
In Pennsylvania, two AmeriCorps VISTA members serving at the Wright Center's Opioid Use Disorder Center of Excellence helped secure a $1.1 million grant to support ten primary care practices in implementing an evidence-based Medication-Assisted Treatment program, which combines medication with counseling and behavioral therapies to treat substance use disorders.

Supporting Safe Disposal of Prescription Drugs
Seventeen Senior Corps projects in Montana assisted a project which distributed 100,000 medication disposal bags to all 56 counties in Montana through a SAMHSA Opioid State Targeted Response grant. The Senior Corps projects partnered with State Prevention Specialists to prepare and distribute the bags over a period of several months.

Serving as Recovery Coaches to Help Individuals Overcome Addiction
In Wisconsin, the Marshfield Clinic Health System will engage 20 AmeriCorps members to serve as trained Recovery Coaches to provide services and support individuals overcoming addiction to remain drug-free. The Mary Hitchcock Memorial Hospital in New Hampshire will engage 16 AmeriCorps members to help individuals in recovery resolve non-clinical barriers to care such as housing, literacy, and transportation.

Providing Substance Abuse Screening and Assessments
University of Nebraska AmeriCorps members use the evidence-based Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) method to identify, reduce, and prevent dependence on drugs. Mercy Health in Ohio places AmeriCorps members in emergency departments across the state to provide education, treatment placement, and emotional support to patients with substance abuse disorders.

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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