Blue Ribbon Coalitions

2023 Blue Ribbon Application

CADCA’s Blue Ribbon Application process recognizes coalitions that achieve measurable success in community-level substance misuse related outcomes by implementing a comprehensive and feasible plan guided by local data. Applicants begin a rigorous two-phase application process requiring them to clearly communicate their story and contribution to community-level outcomes. Based on the substance misuse-related outcomes achieved, they can win the prestigious Blue Ribbon Awards in one of the following categories:  

Coalition in Focus: Short-term Outcomes
Coalition of Excellence: Intermediate Outcomes
Coalition of the Year: Long-term Outcomes

Coalitions that advance as finalists are recognized as **Blue Ribbon Coalitions**. Blue Ribbon Coalitions are able to take what they’ve learned at the National Coalition Academy and apply it to their coalition’s work. They are recognized for doing an exceptional job updating and utilizing their coalition products in order to set themselves up for community success. In addition, they have been recognized by members of the U.S. House of Representatives and by the Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy. 

Becoming a Blue Ribbon Coalition can become a platform to obtain local and national recognition, used in other grant applications, and to pursue other funding agreements. A great demonstration of using the Blue Ribbon Coalition name is Beech Grove Comprehensive Drug Free Coalition. They brought in the Mayor of Beech Grove and General Price from CADCA to celebrate the Blue Ribbon Coalition recognition and showcase the community partners involved in their coalition’s success! 

**Blue Ribbon Coalition is a two-year recognition. Once two years have passed, coalitions can re-earn their recognition status through the Blue Ribbon Application process. Coalitions who re-apply before the two years are expired and achieve Blue Ribbon Coalition will have their two-year status restarted. 


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2023 Blue Ribbon Coalition Winners

Coalition in Focus (Recognizing Short-term Outcomes)

Dallas County System of Services, Inc. serves children, youth and families in Dallas County, Alabama. Our goals are to increase community collaboration and reduce youth substance use. Our activities in the past 12 months include: enhancing the skills of our membership to address substance use in our community through targeted trainings provided by sector members; facilitating Junior Hope Dealer groups in the middle and high schools; providing information to increase the perception of risk of marijuana use, underage drinking and opioid misuse through each Junior Hope Dealer group hosting drug-free events and guest speakers; enhancing the skills of youth through presentations provided at each middle and high school through Alabama Teen Challenge; providing support by maintaining Hope Spaces in local high schools to connect youth to resources in their own schools and conducting the Real Deal Hope tour and Summer of Hope tour; recognizing local businesses that promote a safe and healthy community, including the Hope Star Award and the new Hope Angel Award; changing the physical design; and modifying and changing policies through youth traveling to meet with State Lawmakers to discuss fact sheets about alcohol policies in March. Dallas County System of Services’ coalition, Drug Free Communities of Dallas County, has a diverse and active volunteer base and is continuing to grow each year. The active involvement and engagement of volunteers from across our community has allowed us to be successful in implementing our Action Plan and working towards meeting our goals, including measurable reductions in youth substance use during the first 5 years of our DFC Grant. Our coalition is unique in our youth involvement. Our youth coalition, Junior Hope Dealers, do an amazing job of creatively reaching their peers through talent shows, pep rallies, poster contests, their own radio show and producing original music videos. The coalition serves both school systems in Dallas County as well as the county’s private school.


Coalition of Excellence (Celebrating Intermediate Outcomes)

The Communities for Positive Youth Development (CPYD) Coalition, founded in 2014, serves the suburban communities of Schaumburg, Hoffman Estates, Palatine, Elk Grove Township, and Hanover Park, Illinois. Through the Drug-Free Communities Program, the coalition targets e-cigarettes, marijuana, and opioid use by improving the community’s capacity to identify and address youth substance use, engaging youth in healthy activities that increase community connection, and providing access to resources. To increase community collaboration and support of the DFC program, staff have collaborated with key stakeholders to provide substance use prevention resources, capacity-building opportunities targeting coalition members, parents, youth, and other community members. Key coalition accomplishments include youth taking a central role in the coalition and prevention and the coalition thriving as a visible community resource. The coalition is unique in that it approaches all activities with the end goal of providing culturally competent, evidence-based programs and interventions based on local needs and priorities. Through the input of all sectors, the coalition has successfully engaged the community in substance use prevention.


Coalition of the Year (Honoring Long-term Outcomes)

The East Providence Prevention Coalition has been established in East Providence, RI since 1987 when the Rhode Island General Assembly passed the Rhode Island Substance Abuse Prevention Act (RISAPA) to promote comprehensive prevention at the community level. With over 3 decades of community presence, the EPPC dedicates itself to our mission of promoting healthy lifestyles for all of our city’s residents, with a special focus on reducing youth substance misuse and promoting improved mental health. The East Providence Prevention Coalition (EPPC) has been a driving force in reducing past 30-day cannabis use among East Providence teenagers over a six-year period from 2016 to 2022. In 2016, 22.7% of youth aged 12-17 reported past 30-day cannabis use, triggering EPPC’s focused interventions. By 2022, the coalition achieved a significant milestone, with the percentage of youth engaging in past 30-day cannabis use reaching a notable low of 9.4%. This substantial reduction showcased the coalition’s dedication and indicated a remarkable overall decrease of 13.3% from the baseline year of 2016, exemplifying EPPC’s effectiveness.

EPPC employed a multifaceted approach to achieve these outcomes, including advocating for strengthened ordinances prohibiting cannabis consumption in parks, enhancing school chemical health policies through programs like InDepth, and increasing signage in recreational areas. The coalition also prioritized increased patrolling and enforcement, along with comprehensive training for law enforcement, parents, and teachers. Changing the perception of harm and disapproval surrounding youth cannabis use was a formidable challenge. EPPC addressed this by focusing on training youth leaders, founding a prevention and community-focused youth group (East Providence Youth Council – EPYC), holding very successful sports clinics for all ages of East Providence youth to engage youth during dormant summer weeks, and initiated a life skills program in our secondary schools, to assist students with a multitude of necessary daily living functions to help with making healthy life choices. In founding and facilitating EPYC we have worked closely with East Providence youth to address their needs and have implemented a variety of innovative strategies to empower the youth of East Providence in creating community change. The coalition’s emphasis on parental involvement through programs like LifeSkills Training, Stronger Together, community workshops like Hidden in Plain Sight, and public service announcements successfully increased parental concern and enforcement of consistent guidelines and consequences. These collective efforts have contributed significantly to fostering a healthier and safer environment for all East Providence’s residents, particularly our Townie youth.


This material is based upon work supported by the Office of National Drug Control Policy under Grant No. G2299ONDCP08A. Opinions and points of view expressed in this document are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official position of, or a position endorsed is endorsed by, the Office of National Drug Control Policy.