Beech Grove, Indiana (August 9, 2018) — Adults in Indiana
are more likely to die from a drug overdose than a car accident. And for many
Hoosiers, substance abuse begins in adolescence.
That’s what spurred the Richard M. Fairbanks Foundation, an Indianapolis
philanthropy, to create an ambitious grant program to help schools roll out new
substance use prevention strategies. The foundation announced Tuesday $7.5
million in grants to 24 Marion County schools and districts.
Because substance abuse often begins early, schools across
Indiana have an opportunity to reduce drug, alcohol, and tobacco use. But just
11 percent of Marion County schools reported using a proven prevention
curriculum in a survey last year. With the grants, the foundation hopes to
increase the number of schools using evidence-based substance abuse prevention
programs, said Claire Fiddian-Green, president and CEO of the foundation.
“It feels like a really urgent need to help equip students
with information so they can make better decisions and not fall into the trap
Fiddian-Green said. “Schools can and should play a really
The foundation has committed more than $10.2 million since
January at Marion County schools, including the $7.5 million in implementation
grants announced Tuesday, $860,000 in planning grants, and about $1.8 million
in ongoing technical assistance and evaluation.
The grants are expected to help schools reach over 71,000
children and teenagers — about 44 percent of all students in the county — over
the next two school years.
The largest grant will go to Indianapolis Public Schools,
which was awarded $1.7 million. The grant will allow the district to use proven
resources to help students avoid substance use, Superintendent Lewis Ferebee
said in a statement.
“Opioid use has reached a crisis level in central Indiana
and across the state,”
School-based drug abuse prevention classes have a spotty
track record. The best known substance abuse prevention program is D.A.R.E.,
Drug Abuse Resistance Education. That program has been found to be completely ineffective
. But there are other approaches that have been shown to work.
Fairbanks partnered with the Indiana Prevention Resource
Center to develop a list of programs that research shows lead to short- and
long-term reductions in drug, alcohol, and tobacco use, Fiddian-Green said. In
order to receive the grants, schools must choose from those evidence-based programs.
Indianapolis Public Schools will use Second Step in
elementary and middle schools. The program is not specific to substance abuse —
instead, it is a broad social-emotional learning curriculum designed to promote
social-emotional competence and self-regulation.
As opioid use has roiled Indiana, Fairbanks has supported
other efforts to address the immediate crisis, such grants focused on expanding
access to treatment, Fiddian-Green said. But the foundation is also looking for
longer-term strategies to reduce abuse in the future.
“It’s opioids today, it could be something else tomorrow,”
she said. “Prevention with children and teens seems like the next place to go.”
These 24 Marion County schools and districts received grants
Beech Grove City Schools $226,028
Bishop Chatard High School $100,655
Cardinal Ritter High School $108,545
Cathedral High School $86,010
Cold Springs School $146,275
Edison School of the Arts $29,744
Franklin Township Community School Corporation $235,501
Global Preparatory Academy $12,430
Indiana Math and Science Academies $130,000
Indianapolis Public Schools $1,738,721
KIPP Indy Public Schools $180,500
Lighthouse Academies $192,104
Matchbook Learning $176,871
MSD of Decatur Township $283,587
MSD of Lawrence Township $943,551
MSD of Wayne Township $1,282,439
Perry Township Schools $517,265
Purdue Polytechnic High School $341,049
Roncalli High School $139,294
Scecina Memorial High School $85,704
Shepherd Community School $130,199
The Independence Academy $24,870
The Orchard School $142,500
Thomas Gregg Neighborhood School $260,000
By Dylan Peers McCoy