Richard M. Fairbanks Foundation Commits Over $10.2 Million To Support Drug Prevention Education

Richard M. Fairbanks Foundation Commits Over $10.2 Million To Support Drug Prevention Education

As the school year begins, the Richard M. Fairbanks Foundation has approved more than $10.2 million to help students across 151 Marion County K-12 schools avoid substance use and improve social and emotional well-being.

The 24 grants awarded through the Foundation’s Prevention Matters initiative will help schools reach an anticipated 71,112 children and teenagers – about 44 percent of all Marion County students – with proven prevention programs by the 2020-2021 school year. The Foundation launched Prevention Matters, a three-year initiative to help schools identify, implement and sustain evidence-based substance use prevention programs, in January 2018.

“It was clear from the many thoughtful grant applications and well-conceived plans the Foundation received that schools understand the important role they can play in delivering proven prevention programs to students,” said Claire Fiddian-Green, president and CEO of the Richard M. Fairbanks Foundation. “The programs funded through Prevention Matters will be incorporated into schools’ existing schedules and equip teachers and school leaders with tools that help students decrease risky decision-making and improve their overall health and well-being during a critical window in their lives.”

The grants come at a time when an adult in Indiana is more likely to die from a drug overdose than a car accident, and research shows that substance use often begins in middle school and worsens through high school.

Among Central Indiana 8th graders, more than 10 percent report drinking alcohol and five percent report using marijuana in the past 30 days. Among seniors at Central Indiana high schools, 11 percent report smoking cigarettes, 23 percent report using e-cigarettes, 33 percent report drinking alcohol, 20 percent report using marijuana, and five percent report misusing prescription drugs in the past 30 days.

“The City of Indianapolis is proud to partner with the Richard M. Fairbanks Foundation on innovative programs to combat the addiction crisis, and Prevention Matters is an important part to these efforts,” said Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett. “By giving schools this resource, we hope to reach students before they are exposed to harmful or addictive substances, helping to improve the health of our children and the vitality of our city.”

Proven prevention programs help address the substance misuse epidemic by equipping students with the skills they need to navigate difficult choices around drug and alcohol use. Such programs can also improve academic achievement, attendance, and classroom behavior, and address bullying and in-school violence.

Prevention Matters also seeks to fill a gap in substance use prevention programming across the Indianapolis area. Principals, teachers and other educators care deeply about their students, but due to a lack of information and resources, only 11 percent reported using a proven prevention curriculum, according to a September 2017 survey of Marion County schools.

“Opioid use has reached a crisis level in central Indiana and across the state,” said Dr. Lewis Ferebee, superintendent of Indianapolis Public Schools. “IPS is grateful for the generosity of the Richard M. Fairbanks Foundation. The Prevention Matters grant allows us to connect our students with proven resources to help them avoid substance use in both the short- and long-term.”

Through Prevention Matters, all public and accredited private K-12 schools in Marion County were eligible to apply for non-competitive planning grants of up to $40,000. Forty-four schools received planning grants in March 2018 and were provided access to expert assistance to help develop detailed plans for implementing evidence-based prevention programs.

Planning grant recipients were then eligible to apply for competitive grants to implement their plans over three years. In addition to funding, schools receiving implementation grants will receive technical assistance over the course of the three-year grant period to get their programs up and running and collect data to evaluate their programs’ impact. Grantees also will have the opportunity to work together in cohorts to receive coordinated training and share lessons learned.

“Hoosiers need to work together to address substance use disorder,” said Jim McClelland, executive director for drug prevention, treatment, and enforcement for the State of Indiana. “Prevention Matters grants help engage Indianapolis youth by incorporating evidence-based prevention programming into the school calendar. I look forward to seeing the ways in which these proven programs will help to reduce students’ substance use and save lives.”

The 24 grant recipients range from private Catholic schools like Roncalli High School to large Marion County school districts such as Indianapolis Public Schools and the Metropolitan School District of Lawrence Township.

For a full list of grant recipients and funding details, please visit

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