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Vital Strategies Receives $500,000 Grant From Ford Foundation To Support Overdose Prevention and Advance Harm Reduction in Kentucky

Vital Strategies Receives $500,000 Grant From Ford Foundation To Support Overdose Prevention and Advance Harm Reduction in Kentucky 

Vital Strategies To Partner With State Government, Community Groups as Kentucky Overdose Deaths Rose at Almost Double the National Increase 

The public health organization Vital Strategies is receiving a $500,000 grant from the Ford Foundation to supplement their overdose prevention work in Kentucky. While overdose deaths have skyrocketed across the country, Kentucky saw a tragic 71 percent increase in deaths from 2019 to 2021, almost double the national increase. More than 107,000 people died from an overdose last year, the most in U.S. history with deaths rising most rapidly in Black and Indigenous communities. In Kentucky, 2,250 people died from an overdose in 2021 and overdose deaths in the Black population grew 120 percent from 2019 to 2021.  

“The overdose emergency in Kentucky is being driven by contaminated drug supply and the criminalization of people who use drugs,” said Daliah Heller, Vice President of Drug Use Initiatives at Vital Strategies. “This support from the Ford Foundation will bolster our work with state and local governments, providers, and community groups to expand proven harm reduction interventions and prioritize care over punishment for people who use drugs.”  

Vital Strategies’ work in Kentucky will strengthen statewide naloxone distribution and increase access to medications for opioid use disorder such as methadone and buprenorphine in community and health care settings. Vital Strategies will work to improve understanding and support for harm reduction through a paid media campaign, and increase access to harm reduction services in rural communities and attention to Black, Indigenous and other communities of color. In addition, Vital Strategies will offer technical assistance to counties for opioid settlement funds strategy and planning.  

The Ford Foundation grant will supplement Vital Strategies’ overdose prevention work in Kentucky as part of the Bloomberg Overdose Prevention Initiative. Vital Strategies is the lead implementer for the states’ work in the five-year $120 million initiative funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies to reduce overdose deaths in states. In addition to Kentucky, the initiative is working in Michigan, North Carolina, New Jersey, New Mexico, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.  

Learn more about Vital Strategies’ Overdose Prevention Program       

For Immediate Release: 

Media Contact:  
Tony Newman:; 646-335-5384 
Gloria Malone: