Article by: Elizabeth Ruth
Est. reading time: 3 minutes

Burlington coalition receives $625,000 grant to prevent youth substance use!

Most Burlington-Edison (and Skagit County) students do not use drugs and alcohol. However, if you ask a teenager, or even some adults, how many students use marijuana and prescription drugs, they are likely to say “everyone.” Misperceptions about youth substance use rates, determined by the Healthy Youth Survey every two years, are one factor that can actually impact the likelihood of future use. Factors such as this, among others, will be addressed in new project coordinated by United General District 304 in the Burlington-Edison School District.

In December 2020, District 304 was awarded a five-year Drug Free Communities (DFC) grant to increase community collaboration and decrease marijuana and prescription drug use by youth in the Burlington-Edison School District. United will partner with the Burlington Healthy Community Coalition (BHCC), a group that has worked to create safe and drug-free communities for youth since 1985.

Community Engagement

A BHCC coordinator employed by United General will involve and engage youth, the community, and school district through strategies for community-level change. At the time of this post, we are hiring for this Program Coordinator position. If interested, see our open job postings for more details. Elizabeth Ruth from United General, who worked with BHCC to apply for the Drug-Free Communities grant, shared:

“This represents an exciting opportunity for Burlington-Edison. The grant enables us to engage students, families, school staff, and the extended community and provides funds for youth and adult coalition trainings and activities. It is especially exciting for youth, who will develop and lead local projects and attend national conferences in places like Washington, D.C. (once safe to travel)”

By involving students and the extended community, the DFC project will build “protective factors” that can make a difference when youth are faced with the decision to use or abstain from tobacco, alcohol, and drugs.

Seven Strategies for Community-Level Change

Over the next year, the coalition will develop a strategic plan to begin implementing the seven strategies for community-level change tailored to the Burlington-Edison community. These funds, made available by the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy in conjunction with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, will help BHCC make an impact on the conditions and norms that prevent youth substance use and build a brighter future.

The 7 coalition strategies are: providing information, enhancing Skills, Changing Physical Design, Providing Support, Enhancing Access/Reducing Barriers, Changing Consequences, Modifying/Changing Policies

For more information about the Drug-Free Communities grant project and Burlington Healthy Community Coalition, contact Beth Ruth at