Substance abuse

Philly awards $1.9M to help fight substance abuse, overdoses

PHILADELPHIA — As the city of Philadelphia continues to grapple with its ongoing opioid epidemic, city officials have awarded $1.9 million in grants to the first round of grantees for the city’s overdose prevention fund, an initiative aimed at supporting community-led efforts to battle the overdose crisis.

Established in December 2022, the Overdose Prevention and Community Healing Fund (Prevention Fund) is a grant-making program managed by the Thomas Scattergood Behavioral Health Foundation with the intention of investing funds “from the national opioid settlements to mobilize community-based organizations as trusted messengers and bring prevention resources to areas of the city that are most impacted by the overdose crisis,” according to a news release.

“While the overdose crisis affects all of Philadelphia, each neighborhood has its own strengths and faces unique challenges due to the overdose crisis. The Overdose Prevention and Community Healing Fund empowers communities by strengthening grassroots organizations who bring their local knowledge and expertise to the table,” said Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney.

“Every dollar distributed will support community-led efforts to support our neighbors, prevent substance misuse and heal wounds — both visible and hidden — that the opioid epidemic has caused our beloved city.”

This first round of funding was awarded to 27 community-based organizations throughout the city, following a grant selection process that involved two Community Granting Groups, which were made up of Philadelphia residents who researched and chose applications from eligible organizations that served high-impact areas such as Kensington and North Philadelphia.

In total, 10 capacity-building grants and 17 program grants were awarded to local non-profits that are focused on engaging communities “through programs focused on overdose prevention, substance use awareness and harm reduction, as well as holistic programs that address community trauma, stigma associated with substance use, or promote safety and mental well-being for community-based workers in the substance use field.”

“Grassroots organizations are vital lifelines within our communities. By prioritizing opioid settlement funds for organizations with budgets under $5 million, the Prevention Fund elevates prevention programming through trusted community messengers on the frontlines,” said Noelle Foizen, director of the Opioid Response Unit.

“This fund ensures those with firsthand understanding of local challenges are equipped with resources to address them and helps repair historic strains between public institutions and communities through renewed trust.”

Moving forward, the second round of Prevention Fund grants are expected to open for applications by fall of 2023.

Alec Larson is a reporter for the Philadelphia Tribune, where this story first appeared

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