Gándara Center Awarded $125,000 Federal Grant to Fight Substance Use

WEST SPRINGFIELD — U.S Rep. Richard Neal, in collaboration with the White House Office National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), recently announced a $125,000 grant to Gándara Center’s Stop Access Springfield Coalition. The award was one of 150 nationwide grants for ONDCP’s Drug-Free Communities (DFC) Support Program.

Stop Access Springfield works to reduce youth substance use by creating positive communities and implementing citywide strategies that highlight substance-use prevention and move it to a priority status in Springfield. The coalition focuses on collection data around youth risk and protective factors including youth alcohol, cannabis, and tobacco use; community capacity building; public-health planning to use environmental policy changes to reduce and prevent youth substance use; and implementation of these strategies. The coalition’s Youth Advisory Board is actively involved in providing direction to the coalition.

The coalition is coordinated by Gándara Center and funded by a grant from the U.S. Office of National Drug Control Policy and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

The federal DFC program provides grants to community coalitions to strengthen the infrastructure among local partners to create and sustain a reduction in local youth substance use. Recognizing that local problems need local solutions, DFC-funded coalitions engage multiple sectors of the community and employ a variety of environmental strategies to address local substance-use problems. 

The grant is one of five totaling $625,000 to five organizations in Western Mass. Also receiving awards are Easthampton Healthy Youth Coalition, Hampden-Wilbraham Partners for Youth, West Springfield CARE Coalition, and Longmeadow Public Schools.

“Our goal is to make every community a safe and drug-free place for our youth,” Neal said. “Prevention is a powerful tool to counteract drug use in our community, and these coalitions will use this funding to help youth in West Springfield, Longmeadow, Springfield, Hampden, Wilbraham, and Easthampton make healthy choices about substance use.”