A Hamilton County coalition has been awarded $125,000 to help prevent youth substance abuse. Gil Kerlikowske, Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, announced $7.9 million in new Drug-Free Communities Support Program grants to 60 communities and 6 new DFC Mentoring grants across the country.
Power Up YOUth, based in Webster City, is the only Iowa coalition to receive a new DFC grant in 2012.
"I feel pleased and lucky to be awarded our funding during this time of budget cutbacks, and also a great responsibility to demonstrate great outcomes," stated said Kathy Getting, coalition director.
The DFC Program provides grants of up to $625,000 over 5 years to community coalitions that facilitate citizen participation in local drug prevention efforts. Coalitions are composed of community leaders, parents, youth, teachers, religious and fraternal organizations, health care and business professionals, law enforcement, the media, and others working together at the local level. Upper Des Moines Opportunity submitted applied for a one-time five year extension of Power Up YOUth's original 2007 $500,000 DFC grant. All DFC funds used must be matched with a similar contribution is time resources or other funding from the community.
"America's success in the 21st century depends in part on our ability to help young people make decisions that will keep them healthy and safe," said Kerlikowske. "We congratulate this coalition on its work to raise a generation of young people equipped to remain drug free and ready to prosper in school, in their communities, and in the workplace. While law enforcement efforts will always serve a vital role in keeping our communities safe, we know that stopping drug use before it ever begins is always the smartest and most cost-effective way to reduce drug use and its consequences."
"Efforts to keep our youth drug-free are critical to healthy and safe communities here in Hamilton County," stated Getting. "The Drug-Free Communities Support Program recognizes the great potential of Power Up YOUth and our community members to improve public safety and to help youth thrive. This new funding will allow Power Up YOUth to continue to mobilize and organize to prevent youth substance use."
Power Up YOUth will specifically work to address alcohol and marijuana use among youth. Heather Kierzek, coalition president and juvenile court school liaison officer in Webster City Schools said, "I'm excited about this getting this money and the opportunity to continue to make a difference in our community.
"While most kids do not have troubles with alcohol and illegal drugs, our society pays a high price for those who do," she said. She cited the Underage Drinking Report by the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation completed with funding from the office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. In 2010, Iowans paid $600 million related to medical costs, work loss, and pain and suffering for underage drinking. That means that Iowans paid out $1,895 for each youth in the state in 2010 for underage drinking.