FSU Enters Second Year of the Drug-Free Communities Grant

On October 1, 2015, Frostburg State University began its second year of the $625,000 Drug-Free Communities Grant.

Lyndsey Baker, coordinator for the Frostburg Community Coalition (FCC), said that, in 2011, Dr. Jonathan Gibraltar, FSU’s former president, expressed interest in the university and the president’s alcohol task force applying for the grant. A workshop explained to involved parties what the grant supplied and whether FSU would be considered eligible.

Applying for the grant was “very competitive,” Baker said.  FSU was not eligible at the time of submission because the university’s alcohol task force wasn’t a community-based coalition.

Instead, the Maryland Department for Health and Mental Hygiene awarded FSU the Maryland Strategic Framework Grant. The purpose of this grant is to “build a community coalition to look at underage drinking, binge drinking, and alcohol-related crashes,” Baker explained. After this grant was accepted by FSU, the FCC was established.

FSU first applied for the Drug-Free Communities Grant (DFCG) in March of 2013, but was denied. There are 80 awards given per year throughout the country. “It is a very competitive process,” Baker reiterates. However, after hard work and dedication, FSU was awarded the DFCG in September of 2014. “This was a crucial time,” Baker explained. The grant previously awarded was ending and FSU needed to secure other funds.

The DFCG program focuses on youth ages 12-18—targeted towards middle school and high school students. Baker explains, “It’s kind of rare” that FSU did receive the grant, in 2014, because the grant’s target is based on a different population from who FSU primarily services (college students). The grant money was “parallel” with the services that were already being provided from the Maryland Strategic Framework Grant.

“It was just a basic continuation of the strategies that we already doing,” said Baker. In the beginning, alcohol use was the only focus in the DFCG, but strategies addressing marijuana use were added later.

$125,000 is awarded per year for five years guaranteed and there is a maximum of ten years for the award. FSU houses the money, while the actual award was given to the Frostburg Community Coalition. The grant is provided specifically through the Office of the National Drug Control Policy. In addition, the office is partnered with the Substance Abuse Mental Health Administration and Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America. Baker points out, “They play a significant role in the development and training of DFC awardees.” A part of this includes a three week training session, where team members went to Albany, New York at the National Coalition Academy, to learn how to spend the grant money effectively.

As Baker pointed out, the grant “helps us to continue our work.” It has allowed employees to go from part-time to full-time which enables them to get more tasks accomplished. The main concern is the push for raising awareness about alcohol and marijuana, and with the DFC grant, more students are able to hear the message. Additionally, partners with the coalition set up tables and give out information at the local high schools. There is also an increase in patrol on the weekends when there are high-risk drinking incidents.

There are 17 strategies for this year, with three specific focuses: prevention, engagement, and deterrence. FSU is currently scheduling an AlcoholEDU session in December at Mountain Ridge High School, as well as a presentation for middle school students in the spring. Social marketing campaigns have been continuously worked on and use national campaigns as ways parents can learn about substance abuse and risks about hosting underage parties. Alongside these programs, there are cooperating agreement forms for local bars and retail stores that state selling alcohol to minors is illegal. Responsible beverage service training is provided free of charge for all staff members.

FSU is still looking for additional resources to provide services for students, Baker said.

“We would love to continue our work and have more resources to continue the work,” she explained. The goal for the grant is to maximize the budget available and to see a continued decrease in drug and alcohol use.

If students are struggling with drug and/or alcohol abuse, several resources are available, including the Allegany County Health Department behavioral health unit that sponsors youth groups, the Counseling and Psychological Services office in Sand Spring Hall, and FSU’s Brady Health Center.

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