The Richard M. Fairbanks Foundation is rolling out a new drug prevention initiative that plans to provide up to $12 million to Marion County schools over the next three years.

The Indianapolis-based foundation, which awards grants in the areas of health, education and the “vitality of Indianapolis,” announced the Prevention Matters program Tuesday morning. The initiative is expected to provide grants to public and private K-12 schools in Marion County to support substance-abuse programs.

The foundation hopes the programs will also improve academic achievement, attendance, classroom behavior and reduce bullying and violence.

According to the foundation, only 11 percent of Marion County schools have prevention programs in place, with most schools saying there isn’t enough time or funding to implement them.

“Principals, teachers and other educators care deeply about their students, but they have a lot on their plates. They need support finding the programs that best meet their students’ needs and putting them to work in the classroom,” Claire Fiddian-Green, president and CEO of the Richard M. Fairbanks Foundation, said in written remarks. “By tapping into the wealth of existing proven curricula, school leaders can feel confident knowing the programs they select will work when implemented as designed.”

Two types of grants will be made available—planning grants and implementation grants.

Planning grants will range from $15,000 to $40,000 and will help schools identify and plan for an evidence-based prevention program. All schools that apply by Feb. 16 and meet the eligibility criteria will receive a grant in March, the foundation said.

Implementation grants will provide three years of funding to help schools launch the programs. Unlike the planning grants, the implementation grants will be competitive. Applications are due May 25, and funding will be awarded in July.

According to the foundation, 11 percent of central Indiana high school seniors report smoking cigarettes. Twenty-three percent report using e-cigarettes, 33 percent report drinking, 20 percent report using marijuana and 5 percent report misusing prescription drugs within the past 30 days.

An estimated 151,000 children in Indiana under the age of 18 will die prematurely from smoking, according to the foundation.

“The urgency of the substance use crisis demands tried-and-true solutions that can be brought to scale in all schools across Marion County,” Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett said in a written statement. “Effective school-based prevention programs deliver powerful—even life-saving—messages to students at a critical time in their development, helping to avoid addiction before it begins. The result is engaged and resilient children, overall safer schools, and a brighter future for our community.”

Click here to read Lindsey Erdody’s article in the Indianapolis Business Journal.