Allina Health awarded $500,000 grant to combat youth substance abuse

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. (May 20, 2024) — The Minnesota Department of Human Services awarded Allina Health a three-year, $500,000 Opioid Epidemic Response Recovery (OERAC) grant to expand content aimed at preventing drug use among children and youth. Over the next three years, Allina Health will use its Change to Chill and Health Powered Kids platforms to educate children about substance abuse, while empowering adults to learn about the substances being abused by youth, the signs of substance abuse and how to intervene.

“Our goal is to provide resources and support to keep youth from trying harmful substances such as opioids, THC and nicotine in vapes and cigarettes,” said Sydney Hobart, a community health improvement consultant with Allina Health’s Community Benefit and Engagement team. “We have to do more than just tell them not to use these substances. We have to help them understand what these substances are and the impact they can have on their bodies and lives.”

Hobart and her team, which includes mental health and addiction clinicians, will create content geared toward youth between the ages of 10 and 14 who live in the counties surrounding Allina Health’s 12 hospital campuses. The area includes the seven-county Twin Cities metro, as well as suburban and rural communities in southern and central Minnesota. The team will also develop resources tailored to communities experiencing health disparities related to mental wellness and substance use, including youth who identify as BIPOC and/or LGBTQ+.

Over the three-year period, the team has set goals to reach at least 20,000 youth and/or supportive adults online, and as many as 200 in person. The content will build awareness, help connect the dots between mental health and substance abuse, educate about how to intervene if youth see the signs of use or abuse in a peer and discuss how to seek help from a supportive adult.

“Receiving this grant validates the work we’ve been doing in the communities we serve,” continued Hobart. “With this funding, we can do even more substantial work to empower and educate our youth, as well as the adults who support them, to make healthy choices when it comes to substances.”

While the main focus is to provide the education that will keep youth from trying substances, the content will recognize the spectrum of substance abuse prevention, by ensuring youth understand that if they are unable to avoid substances, there are resources and tools to make sure those substances do not consume their lives.

About Health Powered Kids and Change to Chill
Allina Health’s Health Powered Kids provides lessons on mind-body balance, physical fitness and nutrition for youth ages three to 14. Allina Health’s Change to Chill helps teens identify sources of stress and anxiety, and it provides tools and resources to better manage them.

About Allina Health

Allina Health is dedicated to the prevention and treatment of illness and enhancing the greater health of individuals, families and communities throughout Minnesota and western Wisconsin. A nonprofit health care system, Allina Health cares for patients from beginning to end-of-life through its 90+ clinics, 12 hospital campuses, 14 retail pharmacies, and many specialty care centers and specialty medical services, home care, and emergency medical transportation services. Learn more at and join us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.