RIZE Massachusetts Awards $883,000 in Anti-Racism Grants

June 8, 2023

RIZE Massachusetts Awards Anti-Racism Grants

‘Taking Action’ Program Provides $883,000 to Five Nonprofits to Advance Access and Equity in Opioid Use Disorder Treatment, and to Measure Outcomes

BOSTON (June 8, 2023) – RIZE Massachusetts, an independent nonprofit foundation solely dedicated to funding and creating solutions to end the overdose crisis, today announced that it has awarded $883,000 in grants to five nonprofits across the state, including four that are implementing measurable improvements in access and equity in opioid use disorder (OUD) care and one to evaluate their success.

Taking Action to Improve Access and Equity in Opioid Use Disorder Care is the second iteration of RIZE’s grant program, Innovations in Anti-Racism to Address the Opioid Crisis. RIZE created this grant initiative in 2021 to reduce racism in the health system and improve access to addiction treatment for Black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC) who are disproportionately affected by higher incarceration rates, decreased access to care, separation of families, and disparities in overdose fatalities.

“Almost 10 years after the overdose crisis was declared a public health emergency in our state, people in our communities of color are still dying at disproportionate and unacceptable rates,” said RIZE CEO Julie Burns. “Through this next phase of our grant program, we will continue to tackle the problem of systemic racism in our treatment ecosystem head on, so that everyone impacted by opioid use disorder, no matter who they are or where they live, can access the support they need to achieve a better quality of life.”

This year’s grantees and their projects are:

Baystate Medical Center Emergency Department, Springfield

The Baystate Medical Center Emergency Department (ED), which is the primary provider of emergency care for the City of Springfield and Hampden County, was awarded $199,974 toward its “Safer Smokes” program. Typical harm reduction programming focuses primarily on opioid and injection drug use and does not always provide equitable access to BIPOC communities, whose substance use, and ingestion methods, are more commonly inclusive of stimulant use via smoking or snorting. The “Safer Smokes” project will provide patients with appropriate harm reduction supplies and naloxone in the ED, and link patients to community resources focused on their individual needs, including those who smoke or snort drugs.

Casa Esperanza, Tewksbury

Casa Esperanza, a bilingual/bicultural behavioral health center offering culturally focused integrated care, was awarded $198,088 to support the conversion of Conexiones, a 32-bed program that provides 24-hour inpatient services, into an enhanced program that provides a combined program of acute treatment services (ATS) and clinical stabilization services (CSS). Casa Esperanza’s flex ATS/CSS model provides culturally and linguistically tailored services that will reduce return to substance use and homelessness risk, increase treatment adherence, promote treatment continuity, and improve health outcomes for Latine and other marginalized communities.

Metro Boston Alive and Massachusetts General Physicians Organization, Boston

Bridging the Gap: The Marcus Garvey House Community Revitalization Project was awarded $200,000 to extend the partnership between Metro Boston Alive, a nonprofit providing prevention services and recovery support services to individuals, youth and families, and the Bridge Clinic at Massachusetts General Hospital, a low-threshold, patient-centered, substance use disorder clinic. It will bring together the recovery expertise of Metro Boston Alive with the clinical skill of the MGH Bridge Clinic to provide comprehensive addiction treatment and recovery services to Black Bostonians. This grant will fund modest renovations and support a community engagement leadership team to facilitate a durable Bridge Clinic presence and an enhanced spectrum of community engagement, education, outreach and health promotion activities to bridge the recovery-clinical divide.

Women’s Lunch Place, Boston

Women’s Lunch Place, a day shelter and advocacy center for women experiencing homelessness, hunger and poverty, was awarded $200,000 to improve access to opioid use recovery for their guests by hiring a recovery navigator to facilitate office-based opioid treatment. The recovery navigator will work in concert with their partners at Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program (BHCHP), which currently provides medical services at Women’s Lunch Place. The recovery navigator will triage under the supervision of BHCHP, meet each guest where she is to learn about her trauma history, and create an individualized plan for recovery, including treatment and referrals as appropriate. Additionally, the staff, diverse in language and culture, will provide supportive services, behavioral health services, recovery programming, mentorship and referrals to their population of vulnerable women, the majority of whom identify as Black and Latine, in a low-threshold, safe, women-only setting.

“Women’s Lunch Place is grateful for the generous investment that RIZE has made to support our recovery programming,” said Nancy Armstrong, Senior Director of Operations and Programs at Women’s Lunch Place. “Women experiencing homelessness, poverty and substance use disorders have unique challenges. This is a wonderful acknowledgment by an innovative organization that validates the importance of gender-specific solutions to advance success and equity in OUD care.”

RIZE also awarded $85,000 to the Institute for Community Health, which will serve as an evaluation partner to measure the success of the grant program and to increase the grantees’ capacity for data-driven decision making. Over two years, the evaluation will document how the grants advance RIZE’s goal to better welcome, treat, support, and center the needs of people who identify as BIPOC and have OUD.

About RIZE Massachusetts

RIZE Massachusetts Foundation is solely dedicated to funding and creating solutions to end the overdose crisis. Guided by those with lived experience and unafraid of new ideas, RIZE is building networks, designing programming, and supporting community partners who are using novel approaches to preventing overdose and increasing access to treatment. Learn more at www.rizema.org.