CONCORD — The Neil and Louise Tillotson Fund of the N.H. Charitable Foundation recently awarded nine grants totaling $612,917. Among the recipients were the Coos Economic Development Corporation, North Country Charter Academy, North Country Chamber of Commerce, and the Trust for Public Land.
The N.H. Charitable Foundation awarded a total of $150,000 in grants to the North Country Health Consortium for its innovative substance use prevention program. The Tillotson Fund and the Foundation's Substance Use Disorders Portfolio each granted $75,000 for the Consortium's Youth Leadership Through Adventure program. The program strives to teach kids to be leaders, to deepen their connection to community – and, in doing so, to keep them off drugs and alcohol.
The Youth Leadership Through Adventure program has kids climbing mountains and paddling rivers; doing service learning projects in their communities; organizing conferences for younger students and encouraging healthy behavior among their peers. The program is in all 10 public high schools and 12 middle schools in Coos and northern Grafton counties.
"New Hampshire has some of highest youth alcohol and drug use statistics in the country," said Timothy Rourke, director of substance use disorders grantmaking at the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation and chairman of the Governor's Commission on Substance Use Prevention, Treatment and Recovery. "We know that effective prevention includes engaging youth as peer leaders to affect change."
On the latest New Hampshire Youth Risk Behavior Survey, a correlation appears between schools with active YLTA groups and reduced substance use. Binge drinking and past-month alcohol use among students in those schools have dropped below rates for the rest of the state — and the rest of the North Country. The numbers of kids reporting having ever used alcohol is also down.
"YLTA is achieving great results in helping students understand the consequences of substance use and helping them become positive role models to other students in their communities," Rourke said. "The impact is clear in evaluation of the program, and I look forward to seeing the program expand beyond the North Country as its efficacy is further understood."
The Neil and Louise Tillotson Fund and the Foundation's Substance Use Disorders portfolio, in tandem, are helping make this program possible. Since 2009, the North Country Health Consortium has received $914,147 in grant funding to develop and run YLTA.
"The Tillotson funding will allow the North Country Health Consortium to continue and enhance prevention efforts in North Country schools and communities," said Nancy Frank, executive director of the North Country Health Consortium. "YLTA empowers North Country youth to lead and promote the benefits of a healthy lifestyle and reduce substance misuse. Over the course of the next year, YLTA groups will expand their focus to address identified community needs, including the rise in heroin use."
YLTA has been endorsed as a promising practice by a panel of national experts convened by the state Bureau of Drug and Alcohol Services and the NH Center for Excellence. It is anticipated that YLTA will be identified as an evidence-based practice and replicated for use around the state and country.
Grant awards were made to the following organizations from the Neil and Louise Tillotson Fund at the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation:
The Carsey School of Public Policy at the University of N.H. in Durham, received $90,000 to organize and support civic engagement programs in the North Country over the next two years.
The Coos Economic Development Corporation in Groveton, received $25,000 to support start-up operations and maintenance for a new regional business enterprise center in Groveton.
Les Comptonales in Compton, Quebec received $25,000 to construct 20 permanent and weatherproof kiosks for the Public Market in Compton.
The New Hampshire Center for Public Policy Studies in Concord, received $55,792 to develop a comprehensive education dashboard and convene regional leaders addressing interrelated education, health and workforce opportunities in the North Country.
The North Country Chamber of Commerce in Colebrook, received $60,000 to support its operations over the next three years.
The North Country Charter Academy in Littleton, received $32,125 to purchase new computers and curriculum software licenses helping to sustain its online middle and high school alternative educational programs.
The North Country Health Consortium in Littleton, received $75,000 to support the Youth Leadership Through Adventure prevention network and leadership strategies in North Country middle and high schools with an additional $75,000 match grant from the Foundation's Substance Use Disorders Portfolio.
The Northern Forest Canoe Trail in Waitsfield, Vt. received $50,000 to support its operations over the next year.
The Trust for Public Land in Montpelier, Vt. received $200,000 to support the creation of a 1,342-acre community forest in Milan, over the next two years.
About the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation
Established in 1962, the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation is driven by a vision for a stronger, more just, and resilient Granite State. In pursuit of this vision, the Foundation invests charitable assets for today and tomorrow; connects donors to effective organizations, ideas and people; and leads and collaborates on important public issues. The Foundation awards nearly 5,000 grants and scholarships totaling $32 million annually. Based in Concord, the Foundation roots itself in communities across the state through its staff, board of directors, and eight regional advisory boards. For more information, please visit www.nhcf.org or call (603) 225-6641.