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For Immediate Release
September 13, 2023
Jennifer Miller, 608-266-1683
Elizabeth Goodsitt, 608-266-1683

DHS Highlights New Grant Program and Exceptional Partner Work at Wisconsin Substance Use Prevention Conference

Record number of attendees come together to talk about ongoing drug epidemic

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) is lifting up substance use prevention efforts across the state through a new grant program and awards recognizing exceptional work by partners who are improving the health and safety of people and communities. The announcements are part of the Wisconsin Substance Use Prevention Conference happening today and tomorrow in the Wisconsin Dells and online.

“The focus of this conference is to confront the societal challenges surrounding substance use together,” said Paul Krupski, a DHS policy director and acting director of opioid initiatives. “Everyone has a responsibility to create thriving communities, and by fostering new collaborations and showcasing effective strategies, we can change the story of substance use in Wisconsin.”

Four organizations received grants supporting their efforts to prevent opioid use among populations disproportionally impacted by Wisconsin’s opioid epidemic. They include:

  • Forest County Potawatomi Community, $138,106. This project will focus on tribal nation members.
  • Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, $127,632. This project will focus on tribal nation members.
  • Shee Yee Community, $174,947. This project will focus on Asian, Pacific Islander, and Hmong communities in and around Milwaukee.
  • Wisconsin Community Services, $175,000. This project will focus on Black communities in Milwaukee.

The organizations are using this funding to develop action plans addressing opioid use with strategies that are relevant to the culture of the communities. Each plan must be centered on primary prevention strategies, which are tactics aimed at preventing people from starting to use opioids.

Two strategic planning partners—Impact Community Planning Group of Marshfield, Wisconsin, and TTJ Group of Farmers Branch, Texas—have each received $75,000 grants to support this work.

The six one-year grants are backed by a combination of funding from settlements with opioid manufacturers and distributors.

Recipients of the awards for individuals and organizations showing a strong commitment to substance use prevention include:

  • Madison Alvarez of Madison. The Leaders of a Brighter Future: Outstanding Young Adult Advocate for Substance Use Prevention Award recognizes Alvarez for integrating commercial tobacco and other substance use prevention programming.
  • Volition Franklin of Franklin. The Protect the Pond: Outstanding Substance Use Prevention Coalition Award recognizes Volition Franklin’s initiatives to help community members make healthier decisions through events that brought residents together for positive pro-social and substance free fun.
  • Safe & Sound of Milwaukee. The Catalyst for Change: Outstanding Partner in Prevention Award recognizes Safe & Sound’s strategies for at-risk youth in Milwaukee including Barbershop Mondays, a safe space to talk about substance use.
  • Zaira Shaker of Franklin. The Leaders of the Next Generation: Outstanding Youth Advocate for Substance Use Prevention Award recognizes Shaker’s efforts to educate her high school peers through resource tables during lunch hours and announcements during substance use awareness weeks.
  • Lydia Van Beek of Wisconsin Rapids. The Beyond the Call to Action: Outstanding Prevention Professional Award recognizes Van Beek’s efforts to use age-appropriate activities to educate youth about healthy coping skills to prevent the initiation of substance use.

DHS selected the award winners from a pool of 30 nominations submitted through a statewide call for award nominees.

Organized by DHS, the Wisconsin Substance Use Prevention Conference is held every other year and brings together local and state leaders, as well as practitioners, for two days of learning and networking focused on best practices to help people avoid and modify drug use. More than 400 people registered for this year’s gathering, the largest audience in the event’s history. This year’s event is the first since 2019 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Information about strategies to change lives through substance use prevention is available on the DHS website.

Last revised September 13, 2023