A Central Ohio collaborative of grassroots, community-based and faith-based organizations focused on substance abuse and mental health issues within communities of color is part of a regional, multi-state initiative (called the Great Lakes Urban Initiative) that will be showcased at the One Voice, One Purpose, One Community: 2016 Gathering of Community, Spiritual, and Faith-based Coalitions in Rockville, MD on August 3, 2016, sponsored by the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Agency (SAMHSA).
The Columbus coalition, known as the Central Ohio Team, has joined with grassroots, inner-city organizations in Chicago, Detroit, Indianapolis, Milwaukee, and Minneapolis to form the Great Lakes Urban Initiative (GLUI). These six cities have come together, under the leadership of the Chicago-based Prevention Partnership, to engage in peer-to-peer dialogue, information-sharing, and problem-solving aimed at increasing their impact within communities of color. During 2016, the GLUI has held regional meetings in Chicago and Milwaukee, where it developed a strategic plan that is now being implemented. A third GLUI meeting will take place in Rockville, MD. GLUI is attempting to raise $5 million for the coordination of the six-state partnership and to fund specific projects within each community.
The GLUI Steering Committee includes representatives from African-American, Latino, Native American, Older American, and Somali-American programs and communities. The Columbus representatives are Nettie Ferguson, community engagement and prevention coordinator with the Franklin County ADAMH Board, and George Hicks, prevention specialist with Maryhaven’s Gambling Intervention Program. Both of them are connected to the Central Ohio Team and Franklin County Urban Coalition. “One of the GLUI’s strengths is its diversity, as well as the commonality of purpose. It is exciting to see groups from Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin come together in this manner,” George Hicks said.
The Great Lakes Urban Initiative envisions urban environments within the Great Lakes Region where there is a culture of peace, mental and physical stability, and all people are treated equally. Its mission is to design, implement, evaluate, and replicate a culturally intelligent, high-impact, cost-effective demonstration partnership addressing specific behavioral health and public health needs in communities of color within the Great Lakes Region. The GLUI’s mission and vision are ambitious to say the least.
The GLUI has three major regional goals: (1) Raise awareness of mental health well-being and assist people to lead more productive and autonomous lifestyles through service, advocacy, and education; (2) Reduce public and behavioral health issues within communities of color related to the misuse and abuse of alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs, including prescription drugs and medications; and (3) Capacitate community members on community “trauma-informed care.”
According to Al Orsello of the Prevention Partnership, “The GLUI is a gathering of like-minded, inner-city organizations and individuals working on a commonly-held agenda that will benefit
communities of color in a material way. We plan to make webinars, instructional materials, and other resources available through an information clearinghouse.”
In conclusion, the notion of regional, multi-state coalitions and programming is fairly uncommon among inner-city, faith/community-based substance abuse and mental health service providers that serve communities of color. The Great Lakes Urban Initiative is a cutting-edge vehicle that the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration is looking to replicate in other parts of the country, which speaks well of the effort. The Ohio Team for grassroots, faith/community based organizations and its local affiliate, the Central Ohio Team, have served as an inspiration to the GLUI and SAMHSA through their regional, statewide, and local efforts.
William McCoy serves a consultant to the Great Lakes Urban Initiative and U.S. Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration, providing technical assistance around the country. Mr. McCoy is founder of and principal consultant for The McCoy Company- a personal services consulting firm that specializes in strategic planning, training, and development. The McCoy Company helps clients articulate and achieve their visions, solve problems, and capitalize on their opportunities. Mr. McCoy has held executive-level positions with city government, foreign service, national think tanks, foundations, and nonprofits, two White House appointments. He has authored more than 50 articles, books, and other publications- including his upcoming book, On the Edge: A Practical Approach to Bridging the Gap between Police and Communities of Color. Mr. McCoy holds a BA in economics and a MPA in finance, along with numerous professional certifications. He has been profiled in Who’s Who in the World and elsewhere. You can reach William McCoy at (614) 785-8497 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. His website can be seen at www.themccoycompany.com.
Editors note: We are also excited to announce that Mr. McCoy will be presenting a workshop about the Ohio Team at the 2016 MACC Statewide Training Conference. For more information, go to the MACC Conference Page .