Virginia ABC awards 10 grants to support alcohol education and prevention efforts

virginia abcTen community organizations across the state were recently awarded more than $83,000 in Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority education and prevention grants to help reduce underage and high-risk drinking.

The 10 organizations’ proposed projects will aim to prevent problem drinking and the impact it can have on Virginia’s communities.

From driving under the influence campaigns to alcohol prevention curriculum for students, grantees will reach audiences young and old with the important message of prevention.

“It is the mission of Virginia ABC’s education and prevention division to eliminate underage and high-risk drinking by building the capacity of communities to educate individuals and prevent alcohol misuse,” said Virginia ABC chief executive officer Travis Hill. “The financial support and partnership opportunity this grant program provides is one of the many ways we execute on that mission. We look forward to working with these grantees to positively impact the communities in which they work.”

Over the coming year, these grantees will work in partnership with Virginia ABC’s education and prevention division staff to implement their plans.

The following projects are receiving funding for the 2022-2023 grant cycle:

Virginia Commonwealth University Recreation and Well-Being ($9,999.70)

This project provides a series of alcohol-free, late-night, recreation and healthy-themed events for students to participate in alcohol abuse prevention training while also enabling them to de-stress, have fun and create connections with peers. In partnership with other departments across VCU, this project will focus on planning events during higher risk times of the academic year to facilitate increased education, resource identification, peer group socialization and skill-building primarily for new first-year and returning second-year students in a fun environment.

Capital Area Health Education Center ($2,750)

Funds for this project will address the needs of students at Radford University who wish to remain abstinent from alcohol to connect with like-minded peers in alcohol-free spaces. The Substance Abuse and Violence Education Support Services will weave programming around collegiate events to aid in reducing alcohol related risks/injuries, as well as subsequent legal and conduct charges.

Hampton-Newport News Community Services Board ($10,000)

The Youth Above the Influence Project will address the impact of driving under the influence targeting individuals 15-20 years old, their parents, and retailers. The project will engage participants in a multi-platform campaign including implementing Project Sticker Shock for local awareness of social providing, increasing awareness of DUI through media sources and developing materials to inform target audiences about DUI risks.

James Madison University Recreation Department ($7,784.50)

The department is working to prevent incidents that result from house parties on campus. The project will target new students who are particularly vulnerable to heavy drinking and alcohol-related consequences because of student expectations and social pressures at the start of the academic year. A pilot program called House Party will bring together representatives of five student organizations to discuss prevention strategies and methods to have a safer social party.

Mecklenburg County Public Schools ($4,440)

This project will introduce alcohol prevention curriculum to ninth grade students in Mecklenburg County schools. In addition to teaching the curriculum throughout the fall semester, teachers will also place posters around the school and in the gym as visual reminders of alcohol prevention lessons. Participants will be surveyed continuously in order to gather complete data from upper classmen to see if the ninth grade lessons continue to be used in the future.

Page Alliance for Community Action ($9,000)

To educate youth about the harmful effects of alcohol and other substances, Page County Public Schools will partner with Page Alliance for Community Action to launch weekly seminars at the county’s two high schools. Students will read a book which addresses addiction issues and take part in conversations about the misuse of alcohol and other drugs. The book’s author will participate in these seminar discussions during the year through zoom meetings and conclude the year with an in-person conversation with the entire student population.

Region 10 (Charlottesville) Community Service Board ($9,984.50)

This project will be a partnership with the University of Virginia’s Gordie Center to create short, animated videos for parents and caregivers which highlight the prevalence and risks of underage drinking. These videos will be drafted by Region 10 and Gordie Center staff and reviewed and edited by local parents. The videos will be shared widely throughout the community through local broadcast networks, social media, and other electronic platforms. The videos will be embedded in community presentations that will be publicized through local school and community groups. The videos created through this project will be offered throughout the state for a larger impact.

Planning District 1 Behavioral Health Services ($10,000)

“The Power of You(th)! Positive Choices, Sober Lives” program will be a two-phase project targeted at Norton County high school students and initially involve a virtual or in-person keynote presentation by a nationally known youth speaker from the organization, Dynamic Influence. The presentation is designed to engage, educate and motivate students to make responsible choices regarding alcohol use. Phase two of the project will involve providing engaging educational sessions in the classroom, designed to give students an opportunity to practice and better retain what they learned in the keynote presentation with speaker curriculum.

Substance Abuse Free Environment (SAFE), Inc.  ($10,000)

Alcohol compliance checks along with vaping compliance checks are a proven best practice strategy to decrease alcohol and vaping product sales to minors. Chesterfield County-based SAFE and its community law enforcement partners will use these checks to reduce youth access to these substances. SAFE will also create media campaigns to positively impact youth and adult behaviors through exposure to repeated positive social norm messaging. SAFE’s goal is to reduce underage drinking and youth vaping in the county by 5% as measured by the planned Prevention Needs Assessment Youth Survey 2023 as compared to 2021 and increase compliance rates by 3 percent by spring 2023 compared to fall 2022.

Substance Abuse Taskforce in Rural Appalachia ($10,000)

Substance Abuse Taskforce in Rural Appalachia’s project includes underage alcohol and tobacco sales and compliance checks followed by a media campaign highlighting retailers who did not sell to underage buyers. Also planned for the project will be a billboard contest between area high school students who will design the billboards with alcohol prevention messages. Each school’s billboard will be displayed in their town March, April and May targeting prom and graduation season.

For more information, visit https://www.abc.virginia.gov/education/grants.


Crystal Graham

Crystal Abbe Graham is the regional editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1999 graduate of Virginia Tech, she has worked as a reporter and editor for several Virginia publications, written a book, and garnered more than a dozen Virginia Press Association awards for writing and graphic design. She was the co-host of "Viewpoints," a weekly TV news show, and co-host of Virginia Tonight, a nightly TV news show. Her work on "Virginia Tonight" earned her a national Telly award for excellence in television.