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November 23, 2020
RIZE Massachusetts Grants $565K to 8 Mass. Nonprofits
RIZE Massachusetts

October 19, 2020 —RIZE Massachusetts, a Boston-based nonprofit foundation working to end the opioid overdose epidemic in Massachusetts, last week announced it granted $565,171 to eight nonprofits in eastern Massachusetts to help improve racial equity in healthcare and support harm reduction services.

RIZE Massachusetts said it launched a new grant program designed to reduce racism in the health system and to improve access to addiction treatment for Black, Latinx, and indigenous populations, and extended an existing grant program to current grantees.

The new program, called Innovations in Anti-Racism to Address the Opioid Overdose Crisis, awarded $25,000 design-phase grants, to Boston nonprofits:

  • Casa Esperanza, to expand the use of the Comprehensive Health Enhancement Support System-Spanish language access application.
  • Codman Square Health Center, to conduct a comprehensive needs assessment of current services through a racial justice lens, including examining how workflows and protocols are determined; what services may be lacking; and to what extent the community they serve is involved in this process.
  • Prisoners’ Legal Services, to plan and prepare for an innovative statewide project that will advocate for access to evidence-based substance use treatment for incarcerated individuals as a necessary public health and race equity treatment model.

At the end of the five-month design phase, two of the organizations will receive two-year grants of up to $250,000. RIZE also awarded a design grant to the Boston Public Health Commission.

“Our vision for the Innovations in Anti-Racism grant program is to produce positive, meaningful results in reducing racism and improving access to evidence-based addiction treatment by reducing the stigma and systemic barriers faced by Black, Latinx and Indigenous people in the Commonwealth,” said Julie Burns, president and CEO of RIZE.

RIZE also granted $490,171 to six grantees that received funding two years ago to advance novel harm reduction interventions and the development of low threshold addiction treatment. The grantees are:

  • AIDS Support Group of Cape Cod, Hyannis
  • Fenway Community Health Center, Boston
  • Greater Lawrence Family Health Center, Lawrence
  • Kraft Center for Community Health/AHOPE, Boston
  • HRH413, Northampton
  • Life Connection Center, Lowell

The harm reduction services deployed by the grantees provide support to individuals living with opioid use disorder through positive interventions like overdose education, syringe services and naloxone distribution.

RIZE said the additional year of funding will provide stability for the grantees as they make programmatic adjustments to continue services during COVID-19 and will allow RIZE to learn about the impacts the pandemic has on harm reduction services.

Sarah Wakeman, RIZE chief medical officer and medical director for the Massachusetts General Hospital Substance Use Disorder Initiative, said, while the COVID-19 pandemic’s impacts on efforts to fight the opioid overdose epidemic “are cause for alarm, these organizations have seen great success in their efforts to makes changes, including the adoption of telehealth, to meet their clients’ needs.”

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