Massachusetts community college awarded $1.89M to address opioid use

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The Health Resources and Service Administration (HRSA) recently awarded Holyoke Community College (HCC) a four-year $1.89 million grant to address the impact of opioid use on families.

Funding is through HRSA’s Opioid-impacted Family Support Program. The program aims to increase the number of peer-support specialists and other behavioral-health-related paraprofessionals and supports training programs that enhance or expand paraprofessionals’ skills, knowledge, and expertise.

HCC will use the funds for its Community Health Worker training program. The program works to increase the number of community health workers who are qualified to work on integrated opioid-use disorder teams in area health centers in medically underserved communities.

Funding will provide training for 25 students and incumbent workers annually until the grant expires. Each trainee will receive $3,000 to help defray the cost of tuition, fees, and supplies, and a $5,000 stipend.

Funding also will be used for creating a registered apprenticeship program with its partners Behavioral Health Network, Holyoke Health Center, and the MassHire Hampden Country Workforce Board. Apprentices are eligible for an annual stipend of $7,500.

“Funding to launch this new program could not come at a more critical time for our community and economy,” HCC President Christina Royal said. “COVID-19 has made clear how essential community health workers are in addressing the wide range of physical, behavioral, and mental health issues faced by members of our community.”

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