Local coalition awarded $587,000 grant to support community substance use prevention

St. Peter High School officials say they've seen an uptick in drug and alcohol use in students...
St. Peter High School officials say they've seen an uptick in drug and alcohol use in students since the school year began.(KEYC News Now)
Published: Sep. 29, 2021 at 6:44 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 29, 2021 at 9:20 PM CDT
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ST. PETER, Minn. (KEYC) - A local coalition is awarded a five-year $587,000 grant to support community substance use prevention.

This comes as concerns over substance abuse grow in the area, including the four overdose deaths of younger people in the last few weeks due to opioids in Mankato and North Mankato.

The Nicollet County Adolescent Chemical Wellness Advocates coalition, will receive about $117,000 annually over the next five years from the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy to be used to reduce and prevent local youth substance abuse through a variety of strategies.

“ACWA was started in 2019 as a way to bring different community organizations together to collaborate to intervene on underage substance use,” Nicollet County Attorney Michelle Zehnder Fischer said.

“So using this funding, we will be able to hire a program coordinator to help promote and sustain the coalition’s mission” Nicollet County Public Health Supervisor Bree Allen added.

AWCA has active participants in St. Peter and Mankato public schools, the local police, health and human services and several other area organizations.

St. Peter Public School officials say the funding will aid in prevention resources for students and families.

“So really, flooding families with information on teen drug and alcohol use,” St. Peter High School Social Worker Kelly Jensen stated. “We’ve seen an uptick in our first three weeks of school especially with vaping, and also drug and alcohol use, so it’s out there”.

“We’ve been especially concerned this fall not just because of the last year and a quarter that kids were mostly remote learning when we didn’t really know what the kids were up to, but all the social and emotional needs that are coming out of the pandemic with kids,” St. Peter High School Principal Annette Engeldinger explained.

To learn more, ACWA is hosting two upcoming events provided by Tall Cop, an organization that educates youth substance abuse prevention. The first is a professional seminar for health care professionals, educators, law enforcement and others at the Mayo Clinic Health System Event Center in Mankato from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Oct. 7. Followed by a community discussion geared for parents and guardians that evening from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the same location.

“It’s really hard to find staffing these days, so I think the additional support from all these other community organizations is really going to help us put these preventative measures in place, added Engeldinger.

For more information and registration for the Tall Cop event, visit:

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