history of whatcom prevention coalition

The current Whatcom Prevention Coalition restructured under its new name in the fall of 2009, but has existed in some form since its inception as Straight Talk About Responsibility (STAR) in Whatcom County since 1987. STAR’s original focus was to create a county-wide conversation and social-norm campaign about responsibility and alcohol use. STAR evolved into becoming a planning and oversight board for the state’s Community Mobilization Against Substance Abuse program in Whatcom County when that grant was secured in 1994. At that time, STAR expanded its focus to include smoking, marijuana, and other drugs. The Coalition created ongoing partnerships with alcohol retailers and workforce programs, a drug-free youth program, and later focused its work on partnerships with schools and universities to reduce teen and college student drinking.

In 2004, the Coalition under STAR expanded its collaboration with the health department and formed a broader Coalition, Partners in Prevention (PIP), and added education and prevention activities related to methamphetamine production and use. PIP combined its work as a planning and advisory group for the CMASA program and the county’s substance abuse prevention efforts.

In December 2006, STAR announced its intention to dissolve and the Whatcom Family & Community Network (WFCN), a local non-profit with a similar prevention and mobilization mission, was approached to apply for the CMASA contract. WFCN merged with STAR and then became the CMASA Policy Board. When the Partners in Prevention waned in 2008, the organization’s Board of Directors agreed to expand its board representation and act as the Coalition until the Coalition could reform.

At a September 2009 meeting, the coalition reconvened as a separate entity to focus on the prevention of youth substance abuse and officially apply for the Drug-Free Communities Support Grant with WFCN serving as the grantee for the Coalition. The current group of Coalition members includes some of the original members from STAR in 1987 and new partner representatives. The group renamed itself the Whatcom Prevention Coalition and reaffirmed the earlier risk and protective factor model but expanded to acknowledge new promising practices, the work of the Search Institute’s 40 Developmental Assets, the Asset-Based Community Development Institute’s principles of citizens’ gifts and leadership, and the Family Support Principles that recognizes the value and sustainability of citizen and parent-led initiatives.

Drug Free Communities Support Grant
Originally funded by Congress in 1997 with the understanding that local problems need local solutions, the Drug Free Communities program now supports over 700 drug-free community coalitions across the United States. The grants support coalitions of youth; parents; media; law enforcement; school officials; State, local and tribal government agencies; healthcare professionals; and other community representatives. The DFC program enables coalitions to strengthen their coordination and prevention efforts, encourage citizen participation in substance abuse reduction efforts, and disseminates information about effective programs. Click here to learn more about the Drug Free Communities Support Grant and Partnership for Drug Free Kids.