On November 4, 2020

Vermont’s DREAM program receives $1.25 million to mentor youth affected by opioid and drug addiction

Dept. of Justice funding will expand reach in rural communities

Senator Patrick Leahy announced on Oct. 30 Vermont’s DREAM program will receive a three-year, $1.25 million grant from the Department of Justice (DOJ) to support peer mentoring for elementary-aged youths in rural communities whose lives have been affected by the opioid epidemic.

This is the second such award made to Vermont mentoring programs since Leahy, as vice chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, worked to expand the program’s eligibility to include rural states that have been hard hit by drug addiction.  The change was first made in the fiscal year 2019 Consolidated Appropriations Act.

Leahy said,  “We know mentoring works, it can literally change lives.  For a young person whose family life has been upended by the opioid epidemic, this kind of one-on-one connection can be a lifeline.  It’s even more critical now, as we see the increase in rural isolation brought on by the Covid pandemic.”

The Youth Initiative grant, administered by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP), will help match high school mentors and elementary-aged mentees from rural communities across Vermont.  DREAM, which works to close the opportunity gap that exists for many of Vermont’s young people, seeks to boost educational expectations, grow personal aspirations and build trusting relationships through its mentor pairings.  The program also works to provide supportive social environments that will reduce the likelihood of youths engaging in high-risk behaviors, including substance misuse.

“Through inequitable and often racialized systems, there is a growing socio-economic chasm in resources, life experiences and access to adult mentors for youth in low-income households,” said Michael Foote, DREAM’s executive director.

Leahy, a longtime champion of youth mentoring programs, credited Vermont’s strong network of mentor providers for the state’s success in capturing these highly competitive grants.  Last year, Vermont’s Department of Children and Families, in partnership with MENTOR Vermont, was also awarded a three-year, $1.25 million DOJ grant to support mentoring in communities challenged by opioid use disorders.

Leahy said, “These programs are reaching our most vulnerable young people, who are often living in underserved rural communities.  I’m proud of the work being done in Vermont.  We know how critical these social connections are during normal times, but they are even more critical now as our country, and the world, faces down a deadly pandemic.”

Do you want to submit feedback to the editor?

Send Us An Email!

Related Posts

Gov. Scott vetoes bill that would’ve restricted bee-killing pesticide

May 22, 2024
Staff report On Monday, May 20, World Bee Day, Gov. Phil Scott vetoed legislation meant to protect bees and other pollinators from a widely-used neuorotoxic pesticide. The bill (H.706) would  eliminate most uses of neonicotinoid pesticides (neonics) in Vermont, which have been associated with alarming losses of managed and wild bee populations. Neonic insecticides are used on…

Health premium increases of 16%-19% projected for 2025

May 22, 2024
Vermonters are again facing steep upward premium growth for 2025 due to the cumulative impact of hospital costs, drug prices and state health care policy choices. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Vermont projects that these trends will continue and will require rate increases of 16.3% for individual health plans and 19.1% for the small group…

Sanders: weight loss drugs could bankrupt U.S. health care

May 22, 2024
As part of his investigation into the outrageously high price of Ozempic and Wegovy in the U.S., U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, released a stunning new report May 15 exposing the potential of weight loss drugs to bankrupt American health care. In the report, HELP…

The future of fertilizer? Pee, says this Brattleboro institute

May 22, 2024
By Kate Kampner, Community News Service Editor’s note: The Community News Service is a program in which University of Vermont students work with professional editors to provide content for local news outlets at no cost. When Peter Stickney walks along his cow paddocks in the morning, he notes the scattered patches of greener grass across the…