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How to get grant money for opioid overdose treatment

Consider a variety of funding sources and make your case for why you need it, how you plan to use it and who will benefit


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By Mark Hall Dunlap, GPC, EMSGrantsHelp Staff

The nationwide opioid epidemic continues to grow. Medical news site STATnews reports nearly 100 deaths per day from opioids, with a worst-case scenario reaching 250 per day. No state is immune from this epidemic, but the greatest increases of drug overdose deaths have been in states east of the Mississippi River.

Although EMS approaches vary according to local needs, one common strategy is keeping the overdose-reversal drug naloxone on hand to administer in case of overdose. (image/Bound Tree)
Although EMS approaches vary according to local needs, one common strategy is keeping the overdose-reversal drug naloxone on hand to administer in case of overdose. (image/Bound Tree)

Responding to a public health crisis

Although EMS approaches vary according to local needs, one common strategy is keeping the overdose-reversal drug naloxone on hand to administer in case of overdose. Many agencies rely on grants to purchase naloxone and related supplies.

GrantFinder lists 70 grants related to treating opioid overdoses, including grant programs from 25 states. Foundations primarily fund nonprofit organizations that conduct research, treatment, education/awareness or prevention programs, although a few will fund overdose responses. That leaves the federal and state governments to fund administering overdose treatment in the field.

The majority of grants for fire and EMS departments come from the federal government, and the funds are passed through the states to distribute to local departments. These funds come primarily from the CDC, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), plus limited Department of Justice funding.

You will need to contact your state health department for funding opportunity details specific to your jurisdiction. Here are some sample opportunities:

Federal Grants

Here are two of the largest federal grant programs to help fund opioid response:

SAMHSA: State Opioid Response Grants

  • Eligible applicants: Single-state agencies and territories
  • Program focus: Increase access to medication-assisted treatment using FDA-approved medications.
  • Deadline: August 13, 2019

SAMHSA: First Responders Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act

  • Eligible applicants: Town, city, county and tribal governments
  • Program focus: Allow first responders to administer an approved drug for emergency treatment of known or suspected opioid overdose.
  • Deadline: July 31, 2019

State Grants

Here are three examples of state grants. Check with your state’s health department to find out if similar funding is available in your jurisdiction.

Idaho: First Responder Naloxone Mini-grants

  • Eligible applicants: Town, city and county governments
  • Program focus: Reduce the incidences of morbidity and mortality to opioid overdoses in rural communities through the purchase and placement of emergency devices used to rapidly reverse the effects of opioid overdoses.
  • Deadline: March 15, 2019

Massachusetts: First Responder Naloxone Grants

  • Eligible applicants: Town, city and county governments
  • Program focus: Support police and fire departments to carry/administer naloxone in communities that are most affected by the opioid epidemic.
  • Deadline: April 15, 2019

Ohio Department of Public Safety: Ohio EMS Grant Program

  • Eligible applicants: Town, city and county governments
  • Program focus: Improve and enhance EMS and trauma patient care in Ohio through the provision of grant funding for equipment, training and research.
  • Deadline: April 21, 2019

Foundation Grants

Here are two opportunities for grants from private sources. Look for foundations and community groups in your area that may offer similar funding.

Cardinal Health Foundation: Opioid Action Program – Reclaiming Our Communities

  • Target area: Kentucky, Ohio, Tennessee and West Virginia
  • Eligible applicants: Town, city and county governments
  • Program focus: Distribute Narcan free-of-charge to first responders and law enforcement.
  • Deadline: December 15, 2019

Brothers Helping Brothers: Grant Program

  • Target area: Nationwide
  • Eligible applicants: Nonprofits and town, city and county governments
  • Program focus: Assist small and rural fire departments to obtain vital tools and life-saving equipment.
  • Deadline: None

Making your case for funding

Most grant applications will require a standard set of reponses:

  • Executive Summary
  • Program Description
  • Need/Impact Statement
  • Community Description
  • Budget
  • Goals/Objectives
  • Outcomes

All these sections are important, but the need/impact statement is perhaps most significant. Making a compelling case for your community’s need is critical, especially when the opioid epidemic is so widespread and almost everyone needs the tools to combat it. You may have an outstanding agency and high-quality community programs, but if you can’t explain why you need what you’re asking for, including providing up-to-date data, you won’t get funded.

You must provide context for your need, including why you need the funding, how you plan to use it and who will benefit from it. Some data you should consider are how the demographics of the opioid overdose population differs from your general population, the number of overdoses versus the number of overdose deaths, and how all these numbers have changed over the past two to three years.

Here are some key sources for that data:

There are a number of opportunities available for funding through local, regional, state and national grants, and the team at EMSGrantsHelp is always available to help. Our free grant assistance program includes a number of options for agencies looking for funding to support opioid response efforts.

About the Author

Mark Hall Dunlap is Grant Professional Certified (GPC)  through the Grant Professional Certification Institute and is a member of the Grant Professionals Association. He has been a full-time grant professional since August 2006 and has more than 19 years of experience identifying and securing grant funding. He has been a grant consultant since January 2012. Contact Mark by email at mark.dunlap@emsgrantshelp.com.

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