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HUNTINGTON — The Marshall University Center of Excellence for Recovery was awarded a nearly $1.5 million federal grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration to develop and empower a pipeline of student leaders who can collaborate with their campuses and communities around addressing substance misuse issues.

The grant will allow the Center of Excellence for Recovery to create a partnership, “Collegiate Partnerships for Success,” with the Alliance for the Economic Development of Southern West Virginia (Alliance), Prevention Lead Organizations and state agencies, local organizations and coalitions. The main goal of the project is to prevent the onset and reduce the progression of substance misuse among young adults.

The five-year initiative started Aug. 31. The project focuses on developing connections between higher education institutions and local prevention coalitions; conducting an assessment to examine campus needs around substance misuse to inform planning and strategies; and, increasing infrastructure for culturally sensitive, data-driven, evidence-based practices among higher education institutions in southern West Virginia.

“We are thrilled to be the recipients of this funding because it will allow us to expand prevention capacity and launch new prevention strategies to address substance misuse among our higher education students in Southern West Virginia,” said Amy Saunders, the managing director of Marshall’s Center of Excellence for Recovery, in a news release.

“This grant comes at a time when prevention is needed more than ever for young adults in Southern West Virginia with the stresses of the pandemic on top of the normal stresses of transitioning to the responsibilities of adulthood,” said Dr. Tammy Collins from the Center of Excellence for Recovery, who will oversee the evaluation of the project.

According to Collins, young adults have the highest substance use rates in West Virginia of any age group.

The project has the potential to reach a total of 30,000 individuals over the course of the grant with environmental strategies and prevention messaging and the center plans to serve approximately 6,000 individuals per year with prevention interventions.

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