Here's Another New Opportunity to Fight Opioid Use in Boston

We recently highlighted the General Electric Foundation's work on ending opioid use in Boston, which has emerged lately as an urgent concern for some grantmakers in New England and beyond. The Boston area has been hit particularly hard by the epidemic of heroin and prescription painkiller abuse, and various funders are trying to grasp the issue and fund the most promising solutions.

Recently, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey has announced a statewide grant fund for local programs geared toward substance abuse education and prevention. She made the announcement in nearby Quincy, which was one of the first cities in the nation to give first responders naloxone, which is used to treat narcotic overdoses in emergency situations.

“Today I firmly believe that for us to move forward as a state, to see those numbers change, we need to do a lot more with education and prevention,” Healey said in a press conference. In 2014, Massachusetts lost 1,140 people to overdoses. 

The new opportunity is called the Youth Opioid Prevention Grant, which is open to local nonprofits, community groups, public schools, and other types of agencies. With an application deadline of December 16, the money will be given to programs that are geared towards opioid prevention and education

So where’s the money for this grant money coming from? CVS Pharmacy, it turns out. 

The grant fund was established from money paid by CVS in a $795,000 settlement, for which $500,000 was set aside to address opioid dependence and addiction. This money is meant to settle the allegations that the pharmacy failed to provide its Massachusetts pharmacists with a way to access a prescription monitoring program that would have helped identify drug-seeking behavior. CVS has been blamed for not monitoring drug use patterns well enough or using sound professional judgment to dispense opioids.

The Attorney General is looking to use this settlement money to fund school-based prevention education initiatives in Massachusetts. Public schools and public school districts in the state are the main targets, especially at the elementary and middle school levels.

Most of the grants awarded through this program will be between $2,500 and $20,000 each; however, there is no maximum amount that can be requested. Budgets should be reflective of a two-year project period and can include things like curriculum materials, supplies, travel, expenses, and salaries. The grant application can be accessed online by creating an account with the Attorney General’s office.

This is just the latest example of opioid prevention and education grantmaking in Boston, but it’s certainly not the last we expect to see. So far, the biggest shows of support have come from corporations and government, but we keep waiting to see if private family foundations and community funders will follow suit.