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Yarmuth Announces Major Federal Investments to Prevent Substance Use Among At-Risk Youth

LOUISVILLE – On Tuesday, Congressman John Yarmuth (KY-3) announced $1.25 million in federal funding for two Louisville coalitions working to reduce and prevent substance use among youth. The announcement – made at Family and Children’s Place in Louisville – comes in conjunction with National Substance Abuse Prevention Month, which began October 1.

The grants, provided through the federal Drug-Free Communities Support Program, were awarded to the 7th Street Corridor PAL Coalition and the Louisville Alliance for Youth. Each organization will receive $625,000 over the next five years for prevention efforts.

According to the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids, 90 percent of adults who have addiction problems began using before the age of 18, suggesting that addiction is a disease with its roots in adolescence. 

“We have the opportunity to stop the addiction cycle before it starts and help create healthier futures for young Louisvillians and their families,” Yarmuth said. “I’m proud to support these community coalitions leading the way in preventing substance use among some of our most at-risk youth populations.”

For the past five years, the Louisville Alliance for Youth has worked with the South Jefferson Neighborhood Place Community Council to reduce and prevent youth use of alcohol, tobacco, marijuana, and prescription drugs in Fairdale and Valley Station. The organization’s outreach and prevention efforts include back-to-school events, prescription-drug throwaways, alcohol and tobacco compliance checks in nearby stores, and informational town hall meetings for parents.

“This funding is one of the few remaining supports for youth substance abuse prevention, and we are grateful to Congressman Yarmuth for his help in securing resources at a time when they are so limited,” said Dodie Huff-Fletcher, Project Director for the Drug-Free Communities Grant with the Louisville Alliance for Youth, and Prevention Specialist at Seven Counties Services, Inc. “These funds are critical to help reduce and prevent youth use of alcohol and other drugs.”

Patricia Cummings, Co-Chair of the Alliance for Youth, said, “These funds will be used to meet the two goals of the Drug-Free Communities grant – supporting the community collaboration with the use of environmental strategies, and reducing and preventing youth use of alcohol and drugs.”

The 7th Street Corridor PAL Coalition serves the Park Hill, Algonquin, and Old Louisville neighborhoods. The organization, housed and partnered with Family and Children’s Place, engages youth in prevention efforts and works to bridge the gaps between community, school, and home life. The coalition uses a strengths-based and community-based approach to prevention, responsive to community needs and directly involving community members in developing and implementing prevention activities. Youth play a major role in coalition work and are given leadership positions in coalition programs and activities.

“The goal is to create environments where the kids want to stay engaged with healthy activities and where they can learn something about themselves that they might not normally learn, or be encouraged to learn about themselves in their homes and community,” said Tomy Molloy, Coalition Coordinator for the 7th Street Corridor PAL Coalition.

“This grant gives us the opportunity to collaborate in the community by creating prosocial activities among youth,” said Nancy Carrington, Program Director for the 7th Street Corridor PAL Coalition. “These introduce creativity to the youthful brain and stimulate thought processes that produce positive change.” 

According to the JCPS Safe and Drug-Free Schools report, usage of alcohol, cigarettes, and marijuana has declined among PAL students during the past two years.

The Drug-Free Communities Program was created by the Drug-Free Communities Act of 1997, and reauthorized by Congress in 2001 and 2006. The DFC Support Program is a matchingfederal grant that uses government investment to leverage local support, with communities providing at least a one-to-one match of federal funds. The program mobilizes nearly 9,000 community coalition members throughout the U.S.