Irvine Chemical People
In the early 1980's, then First Lady Nancy Regan called communities to action to prevent drug use in the United States. Those groups that emerged were called "Chemical People" groups. Irvine was one of hundreds of organizations across the United States to form a Chemical People group. The Irvine Chemical People formalized the group by forming a non profit agency now called Irvine Community Drug Prevention (ICDP).
A Partnership in Prevention
In the early 1990’s, our community faced some difficult challenges. After an off campus shooting, the Safe Community Task Force was formed by a joint council session. This team held hearings and in the end, they made recommendations that shaped the way we work today. Not long after, the county bankruptcy challenged our commitment to prevention but we worked together to maintain those programs that served our children and their families.
The Irvine Prevention Coalition
In 1996, the Irvine Prevention Coalition was formed. Our first funding came from a Healthy Start grant. Later, we received a five year Coalition Strengthening Grant from the Office of National Drug Control Program (ONDCP) and the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP). The IPC received a Safe School's Healthy Students grant in 2002, expanding our prevention and early intervention services. In 2003, the coalition received a second five year coalition grant.
Prevention as a Priority During Difficult Times
In the spring of 2001, the school district and the city both faced some tough budget cuts. The school district was at risk of losing many of the programs that support children and families. The city cuts included the elimination of the Community Youth Program Grants that provided resources for a variety of programs for at risk youth since the early 1990’s.
In response to this crisis, IUSD Guidance Resources and Project Success staff got together with some of our key partners including the City of Irvine, Irvine Police Department, Families Forward and ICDP and wrote the Safe Schools Healthy Students grant. This federal grant was appropriated after the school shooting at Columbine High School to help communities develop programs that would create safety nets for at risk youth in order to prevent violence in schools and in the community. Irvine was selected as a recipient of the funding which allowed us to continue to delivering a high level of service in the community. In addition, the funding enabled us to work together to develop and implement school and community based prevention programs that were both research based and innovative.
Sustainability is an Ongoing Challenge
While the IPC was fortunate to receive a Safe Schools, Healthy Students grant, finding a way to sustain programs it funded is a priority. In the fall of 2005, the coaltion partners worked together to identify priorities and develop strategies to sustain needed programs. The partners concluded that the early intervention programs, including Project Success and the Irvine Family Resource Center, were critical since they provide an invaluable safety net for young people and a referral source for our community partners.
City of Irvine Educational Partnership Fund
Soon after, members of the IPC were invited to meet with key community leaders including our Mayor, City Council members, our City Manager and other coalition partners to discuss the community needs. Then, in the spring of 2006, the City of Irvine did an amazing thing. The City Council unanimously agreed to allocate a portion of the City's annual carry over to support school based prevention, health and early intervention programs. Each year, the City of Irvine's Educational Partnership Fund provides $500,000 a year in grants to support school based prevention and early intervention services.
STOP Act Grant
In 2008, the Irvine Prevention Coalition was awarded a four year STOP Act Grant to Prevent and Reduce Underage Drinking. This partners of the coalition are working together to develop a merchant campaign and a parent campaign in order to increase community awareness regarding the issues of underage drinking. In addition, the coalition is working with the City of Irvine's High School Youth Action Team to develop a social norms campaign targeting high school students and parents.