The funding available through this grant application process comes from hundreds of millions of dollars in proceeds from lawsuits against opioid manufacturers, distributors, and pharmacies negotiated by the Tennessee Attorney General. According to legislation passed by the Tennessee General Assembly, these proceeds are first split with 15% going to the state and 15% going to county governments for any purpose and 70% going to the Opioid Abatement Trust Fund. The dollars in the trust fund are split again with 35% going directly to the counties for approved opioid abatement activities and 65% going to the council for community grant applications. This last, largest percentage is what agencies are applying for in this grant funding opportunity.
In an Announcement of Funding posted in late July, the OAC outlined the process for application including criteria for constructing grant applications, designing programs, building partnerships, and reporting outcomes. Proposers must design programs that impact opioid use disorder their communities in methods contained in the approved remediation list including: Primary Prevention, Harm Reduction, Treatment, Recovery Support, Education/ Training or Research or Evaluation of Abatement Strategy Efficacy. To measure interest and ensure resources to evaluate proposals, council staff asked potential proposers to submit an Intent to Apply, and they received letters for about 440 applications.
The distribution of community funding follows the Opioid Abatement Trust Fund payments directly to county governments in late February. Those payments totaled more than $31.4 million. While the total dollar amount available through the community funding opportunity is still to be determined based on the proposals that are funded, the fund balance as of June 30, 2023 was nearly $80 million.
“Opioids have killed thousands of Tennesseans, broken families, ruined livelihoods, and overwhelmed our criminal justice system. The Tennessee Attorney General’s Office secured hundreds of millions of dollars for Tennessee as a leader in the national effort to hold opioids companies accountable. Our Governor and General Assembly have directed the experts on the Opioid Abatement Council to send money where it will help most in fighting the opioid epidemic. We gladly support the Council’s mission and will continue to work toward accountability for everyone responsible for the opioid crisis,” said Tennessee Attorney General Jonathan Skrmetti.
“Opening this application for community funding is such a momentous occasion and doing so on the first day of National Recovery Month is especially meaningful. The people of Tennessee have suffered and continue to suffer because of the actions of opioid manufacturers, distributors, and pharmacies. We’re committed to ensuring that these dollars are spent with efficiency and transparency to begin to heal the hurt in our great state,” said Stephen Loyd, MD, Opioid Abatement Council Chairman.
“The opening of this community grants process is a truly historic moment in our state. Wave after wave, we have seen the addiction crisis in our state caused by opioids change and grow and become more deadly. The opportunity to fund programs on this scale is truly beyond measure,” said Marie Williams, LCSW, Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services Commissioner. “We are so grateful to the Opioid Abatement Council and staff for their leadership in getting these funds to the communities where they are so desperately needed and to Attorney General Jonathan Skrmetti, former Attorney General Herbert Slatery, and the team at the Office of the Attorney General for their tenacity and dedication in negotiating the settlements that made these funds available.”
Applicants interested in submitting proposals to the Opioid Abatement Council can do so through the council’s website at TN.gov/oac. Council staff worked with the Department of Finance and Administration’s Strategic Technology Solutions to customize a web-based portal for application, evaluation, and tracking.
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