RIZE Massachusetts awards $300,000 in grants to help nonprofits fighting opioid epidemic during COVID-19 pandemic

May 5, 2020

RIZE Massachusetts Foundation, an independent nonprofit foundation working to end the opioid epidemic in Massachusetts, announced today that it has awarded $300,000 in grants to support Boston nonprofits working with vulnerable populations that are stressed by the COVID-19 pandemic.  The grants are made possible by a collaboration between RIZE Massachusetts and the Boston Resiliency Fund.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has presented new challenges for people in recovery and the frontline staff that supports them daily,” said Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh.  “This joint investment from the City of Boston and RIZE Massachusetts Foundation will allow us to directly help residential recovery programs support their frontline staff, as well as aid individuals still struggling on the street by promoting hygiene and connection to harm reduction and recovery services while promoting physical distancing.”

Grants totaling $285,000 are being awarded to local residential treatment providers that have faced financial strain as they continue to provide services to Boston’s most vulnerable individuals living with substance use disorder.  Many of the grantees are using the funds to support staff, develop IT infrastructure to pivot to telehealth services and increase sanitation measures.  The grants range from $15,000 to $25,000 and are based on the size of the provider.

“We cannot forget that there are thousands of individuals struggling with opioid use disorder that need our help during the coronavirus crisis,” said Julie Burns, President and CEO of RIZE Massachusetts Foundation.  “I want to thank Mayor Walsh and all of our city government and community partners who are stepping up to lend a voice to the voiceless and work to support people with opioid use disorder.”

RIZE is distributing grants to the following providers serving neighborhoods across the city:

  • Boston Public Health Commission (for programs in Mattapan)
  • Casa Esperanza, Inc. (Roxbury)
  • The Dimock Center (Roxbury)
  • The Gavin Foundation (Charlestown, South Boston and Dorchester)
  • Granada House (Allston-Brighton)
  • Hope House (Roxbury)
  • Interim House (Dorchester)
  • Middlesex Human Services Agency, Inc. (South Boston and Jamaica Plain)
  • North Suffolk Mental Health Association – Meridian House (East Boston)
  • Phoenix House (Dorchester)
  • Rehabilitation and Health, Inc. (East Boston)
  • Victory Programs (Roxbury, Dorchester, South End and Jamaica Plain)
  • Volunteers of America of Massachusetts (South End, Dorchester and Jamaica Plain)

“RIZE’s continued focus on the needs of people in recovery – and support for staff working alongside them – is so meaningful during this challenging time,” said Sarah Porter, Executive Director of Victory Programs.  “Even through the stress and anxiety brought on by the pandemic, the primary focus of so many individuals we work with continues to be recovery and stability – it’s impressive.  RIZE’s funding will help Victory Programs with increased costs incurred during the COVID-19 pandemic, while ensuring that those accessing services in these programs remain safe and well while seeking treatment.”

RIZE is also committing $20,000 to support city and community partner efforts to create designated comfort stations at three locations in the city.  These sites are intended to provide access to handwashing stations and restrooms that meet social distancing guidelines.  The comfort stations are located at 794 Massachusetts Ave., 1 Proctor St. and 120 Southampton St.

PAARI (Police Assisted Addiction and Recovery Initiative), a RIZE community partner, will receive funds to support the Boston Police Department Street Outreach Team and provide harm reduction services at the comfort stations and connect people to treatment.

“COVID-19 has taken an unfair toll on people of color and requires us to be steadfast in our mission to foster recovery and empowerment,” said Emily Stewart, CEO of Casa Esperanza.  “These funds will help us continue our mission through investments in technology and improving internet connectivity to expand access to our telehealth platform and promote social distancing.  We are so grateful for RIZE’s leadership in supporting community-based addiction treatment providers like Casa and, most importantly, empowering people struggling with addiction to sustain vital connections to recovery – now, when they need them most.”

These awards are in addition to the over $200,000 in rapid response grants RIZE distributed in March to nonprofits across Massachusetts facing challenges stemming from the pandemic.

To support RIZE’s efforts to fund the community-based organizations providing care, services and resources to people with opioid use disorder under extremely challenging circumstances like the COVID-19 pandemic or natural disasters, contributions can be made here.