VALLEY — As Colorado grapples with the opioid crisis, local communities are stepping up efforts to organize community responses. To assist these communities in their local responses, a partnership has been formed between the Colorado Attorney General’s Office, the Colorado Substance Abuse Trend and Response Task Force, the Central Colorado Area Health Education Center, Rise Above Colorado, the Colorado Consortium for Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention, and Serve Colorado in the Office of the Lt. Governor, to place AmeriCorps members in communities across the state.
“The misuse of prescription drugs such as opioids has created a public health crisis in Colorado, damaging countless lives and hurting communities,” said Attorney General Cynthia Coffman. “Our program with AmeriCorps will provide desperately needed assistance to Colorado communities and make a strong impact at the local level as we work together to address this problem.”
The Colorado AmeriCorps Community Opioid Response Program, or CORP, utilizes AmeriCorps members who will support local communities throughout the state. CORP’s mission is to assist communities that are implementing strategies to reduce the impact of opioid abuse by coordinating community, youth, and provider education events.
The AmeriCorps members will work with the six regional Area Health Education Centers (AHECs) and several regional partners across the state. They will work alongside other public health experts and community coalitions in their regions.
Grants from the Corporation for National Community Service through Serve Colorado and from the Colorado Office of the Attorney General have provided the major funding for the program, with additional funds and in-kind support contributed by the other partners as well.
Placing AmeriCorps members in communities allows the partners to leverage available resources and link state and local community efforts.
The AmeriCorps members are responsible for helping to coordinate and facilitate provider education events about safe prescribing across the state. They will assist in organizing community education events about the importance of safe storage and disposal of prescription medication. They also will coordinate and facilitate youth opioid and substance abuse education.
“The events that AmeriCorps members will be coordinating will help community members and medical providers learn what they can do to fight the opioid epidemic,” Central Colorado AHEC Executive Director Lin Browning said.
The CORP grant is closely associated with the work of the Colorado Consortium for Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention (Consortium) and Rise Above Colorado that provides support to local communities implementing strategies to reduce the impact of opioid abuse.
The Consortium is working with CORP to help develop resources that will be used at the events and to coordinate the program.
“CORP is an innovative partnership that will connect people fighting prescription drug misuse on the grassroots level with leading organizations in the state and will help communities tap into the best federal and state resources we have available, and bring them to the local level,” Consortium Director Rob Valuck said.
The youth programming has been developed by Rise Above Colorado, which is a drug abuse prevention organization that measurably impacts teen perceptions and attitudes about the risks of substance abuse.
“With this AmeriCorps program, more teens will have access to resources to build skills and knowledge that will help them make healthy choices in the present and avoid prescription drug misuse in the future,” Rise Above Colorado Executive Director Kent MacLennan said.
The year-one project period runs through August 31, and CORP is anticipated to be a four-year program.
There are positions available for anyone interested in being an AmeriCorps member of this project. To apply, visit http://www.ccahec.org/americorpsapp17
For more information on this program, or how to bring these educational events to your communities, please contact Lin Browning at [email protected] and visit http://www.ccahec.org/programs/community-programs/americorpscorp/