Five grants continue Richard M. Fairbanks Foundation’s three-year initiative to invest in proven drug-prevention programming, bring total number of students reached to 83,000

INDIANAPOLIS (Jan. 28, 2019) — As part of its robust effort to prevent substance misuse among young people, the Richard M. Fairbanks Foundation today announced a $1.15 million investment to help 29 Marion County K-12 schools implement drug prevention programs. The five grant recipients include the Metropolitan School Districts (MSD) of Warren and Washington Townships and public charter schools Urban ACT Academy, Ignite Achievement Academy and Indianapolis Academy of Excellence.

These grants are part of the Prevention Matters initiative, which the Foundation launched in January 2018 as a three-year effort to help schools identify, implement and sustain evidence-based substance use prevention programs.

The grants announced today follow 24 Prevention Matters awards that were made public in August, bringing the total Prevention Matters investment to $11.9 million. That total funding will help 180 schools reach an anticipated 83,390 students in kindergarten through 12th grade with proven prevention programs by the 2020-2021 school year.

“Schools have a unique opportunity to equip students with the tools they need to avoid drugs and alcohol while improving their overall health and well-being,” said Claire Fiddian-Green, president and CEO of the Richard M. Fairbanks Foundation. “We are excited to make this investment that will help address our state’s addiction challenges by preparing students to make wise decisions about drugs and alcohol, both now and in the future.”

The grants come at a time when Americans are more likely to die from an opioid overdose than a car accident – including more than 1,800 Hoosier overdose deaths in 2017 – and more than 11,000 Hoosiers die prematurely each year from smoking cigarettes. Research shows that drug use often begins as early as middle school, making early intervention a critical step in combatting Indiana’s addiction crises.

In addition to navigating difficult choices around drug and alcohol use, proven prevention programs also have been shown to improve academic achievement, attendance and classroom behavior, and address bullying and in-school violence.

While school and district leaders recognize the importance of these programs, due to a lack of information and resources, only 11 percent reported using a proven prevention curriculum, according to a September 2017 survey of Marion County schools.

“We are extremely grateful to the Richard M. Fairbanks Foundation for supporting students in Marion County,” said Jon Milleman, Assistant Superintendent at MSD of Washington Township. “We know that many students face a variety of stresses inside and outside of school. The personal relationships and connections our staff members make with them is the most powerful way to address their needs. The programs and in-person coaching and professional development this grant provides will make a lasting impact on our school community.”

Prevention Matters has helped to catalyze similar initiatives in other key parts of the state, with peer Indiana foundations creating drug prevention funding programs in their communities based on this model. These include the Healthcare Foundation of LaPorte’s Partners in Prevention, North Central Health Services’ Resilient Youth Initiative, and Community Foundation of Bloomington and Monroe County’s Precision Health Network Fund.

“Through our Resilient Youth Initiative, 19 school systems in North Central Indiana will explore the potential of evidence-based programs to improve the health and well-being of their students,” said Stephanie Long, CEO and President of North Central Health Services (NCHS) in West Lafayette. “Effective implementation of these programs could substantially improve students’ self-management and social skills and lower substance use.”

In addition to funding, Prevention Matters grant recipients receive technical assistance over the course of the three-year grant to get their programs up and running and collect data to evaluate their programs’ impact. Grantees will also have the opportunity to work together in cohorts to receive coordinated training and share lessons learned.

For a full list of Prevention Matters grant recipients and funding details, please visit


The Richard M. Fairbanks Foundation strives to advance the vitality of Indianapolis and the well-being of its people by addressing the city’s most significant challenges and opportunities. The Foundation is focused on three issue-areas: education, tobacco and opioid addiction, and the life-sciences. To advance its work, the Foundation implements a three-pronged approach: strategic grantmaking, evidence-based advocacy, and cross-sector collaborations and convenings. Learn more at