A unique program aimed at reducing substance abuse while also tackling other troubling issues among young people in Allendale and Upper Saddle River will grow even stronger, thanks to a new federal grant, organizers said.
The $625,000 National Drug Control Policy grant will be distributed evenly over five years to the USRA Coalition, said Upper Saddle River Mayor Joanne Minichetti, the group’s chairperson.
The money will “both sustain and broaden the USRA Coalition’s programming and education,” Minichetti said.
The USRA Coalition was created in 2017 in response to the increase in substance abuse – including prescription drugs – in Bergen County, New Jersey and throughout the U.S.
Its stated mission is to “educate and create awareness in our communities to prevent and reduce substance abuse and other related health issues."
The coalition provides funding, programming and resources to Northern Highlands Regional High School, as well as to the K-8 schools in Allendale and Upper Saddle River. Priorities have included mental health, vaping and opioids.
The Coalition participates in a host of community events -- Allendale Day , Friday Night Lights , USR/Allendale Bike Rodeo and Oktoberfest , among them – to help raise awareness, while providing programming for parents and students on mental health, alcohol and substance abuse and other topics.
The USRA Coalition also sponsors and hosts National Night Out among the four Northern Highlands communities, their police departments and emergency services.
“Members of the Coalition are thrilled to put this funding to good use and will be working with our police departments, boards of health, religious and community leaders, as well as with our school administrators, for the life-long benefit of our young people,” Minichetti said.
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