The Community Alliance for Prevention (Alliance) was founded as a coalition in October 2013 to provide a means to strengthen our community in order to prevent and reduce youth substance use. The Alliance was developed in response to a statewide movement encouraging local communities to organize for youth substance use prevention. 360 Youth Services (360) receives funding through the Illinois Department of Human Services (DHS) Substance Abuse Prevention Services. A small portion of the funding supported staff time to establish a comprehensive communitywide substance abuse prevention coalition in our service area. A major goal of the coalition was to successfully seek funding independent of the DHS system to provide for coalition staffing, further assessment and capacity building, strategic planning, implementation and evaluation.
360 reached out to key leaders in twelve community sectors and beyond who had influence and shared the common goal of keeping youth safe and healthy. Thoughtful consideration was given to each potential member’s connection and leadership role within the sector for which his/her representation was requested.
Members were successfully recruited using the Strategic Prevention Framework (SPF) with the research supporting its effectiveness as the unique feature and selling point. Members were invited to participate in this exciting time in our community’s history via email and then follow-up conversations or meetings. We shared that this newly forming local prevention coalition would be using the SPF as the foundation of its work, which research demonstrates is one of the most effective methods of creating community change and reducing youth substance use. We shared that this foundation would take time to build and that the first couple of years would focus on capacity building within the coalition and working toward a comprehensive needs assessment of local youth substance use.
In the first nine months, 360 assembled a capable and dedicated group of individuals who worked together to lay this foundation for the coalition. The group articulated concerns and outcomes desired for our youth, families and community. The process of ongoing training began with learning about strategies for community change and the SPF. The members developed the mission, vision and values statements and defined the geographic service area we hope to impact. The coalition selected a name, Community Alliance for Prevention (Alliance), and formed a Leadership Team. Bylaws, an organizational chart and coalition involvement agreements were created to clearly define the goals of the work, roles and expectations for members.
Over the course of the following years, the Alliance continued to build on its infrastructure and work through the SPF model. Sub-committees were formed to target specific coalition needs and purposes. A needs assessment was created for our service area, and the Alliance began strategic planning based on community data. Membership grew, as substances of emphasis became clearer for our community.
In the fall of 2016, the Alliance was awarded Drug Free Communities (DFC) Support Grant Funding. This federal grant provides funding from 2016-2021. An Alliance Project Coordinator was hired shortly after.
Education is essential to the Alliance and its members. The Alliance receives leadership and training from many partners, including the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America Institute (CADCA), and Prevention First Incorporated (PFI).