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Home » Uncategorized » Drug Free Communities grant awarded to Center for Health Innovation for efforts in Doña Ana County

Drug Free Communities grant awarded to Center for Health Innovation for efforts in Doña Ana County

(Pictured from left to right) Dona Ana County Commissioner Ramon Gonzalez, Anthony Trustee Fernandez Herrera, CHI Prevention Director Marisol Diaz, District Attorney Mark D’Antonio, State Representative Joanne Ferrari

Thursday, September 20, 2018; Las Cruces, NM: Three out of five Doña Ana High School students reportedly used marijuana in the last 30-days, according to the most recent Youth Risk and Resiliency Survey. That’s one of several troubling youth substance abuse statistic the Southwest Center for Health Innovation (CHI) hopes to change working with the Unified Prevention (UP!) Coalition for Doña Ana County, and a recently received grant from the Drug-Free Communities Support Program.

“The Drug-Free Communities award could not be possible without the strong partnership with the UP! Coalition” said Susan Wilger, CHI Associate Director.  “The Coalition members, together with CHI staff, actively participate in community assessment of and planning for youth substance use prevention in Doña Ana County.  Through these efforts they recognized the need to address youth marijuana use and to enhance their current efforts around underage drinking. We are excited to bring new funding resources to Doña Ana County for this worthwhile work.”

Drug-Free Community Support Program provides funding for local community coalitions to prevent youth substance use, including prescription drugs, marijuana, tobacco, and alcohol. The grant provides $125,000 per year for five years, and requires considerable investment, commitment and support from the community. This was the only Drug Free Communities new recipient grant awarded in New Mexico, out of the 156 awarded nationally.

The UP! Coalition chair, Dr. Edward “Ned” Rubin said, “This grant will support evidence-based programs and expand our efforts to new areas of Doña Ana County. Most important, our program will include outcome work, so we will know if our efforts are working.”

UP! Leadership Team member, Mary Morgan said, “Center for Health Innovation, with our coalition, has the capacity to do great work in Doña Ana County.” Morgan is the Tobacco Use Prevention and Control Program’s Southwest Field Coordinator of the New Mexico Department of Health.

Morgan added, “This grant provides much needed services for youth alcohol and marijuana prevention. It fills the gap in current prevention efforts. Since the grant is renewable for five years, we have the ability to establish new community norms and a continuum of prevention services.”

Drug-Free Community Support Program is funded by the Executive Office of the President, the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), and Center for Substance Abuse Prevention (CSAP).

For more information contact Marisol Diaz at (575) 597-0042 or email:

About the Southwest Center for Health Innovation (GENERAL ORGANIZATIONAL INFORMATION)

The Southwest Center for Health Innovation (CHI) is a nonprofit focused on bettering community health in underserved and underrepresented populations.  CHI empowers groups and individuals at a local, state and national level to determine the future well-being of their communities through the development and implementation of innovative policies, strategies and evidence-based models. Founded in 2015, CHI is headquartered in Silver City, with additional offices located throughout New Mexico. For more information, visit

About the Unified Prevention Coalition for Doña Ana County (GENERAL PROGRAM INFORMATION)

Unified Prevention (UP!) Coalition for Doña Ana County seeks to build community collaboration around efforts to reduce and/or prevent youth drug and alcohol use and abuse, address factors that increase risks of usage and promote factors that increase resiliency. Currently, UP! is focusing on reducing youth use of alcohol, marijuana and prescription drugs by utilizing evidence-based practices which are relevant and culturally appropriate. The Coalition solidified in 2015 with the support of the New Mexico Office of Substance Abuse Prevention.  For more information visit the UP! Coalition webpage.