Appropriation Builds on Previous Investments That Fund Critical Programs to Fight Opioid Epidemic
BOSTON (July 22, 2021) – RIZE Massachusetts, an independent nonprofit foundation working to end the opioid epidemic in Massachusetts, received a $2 million appropriation to support its programs in the state’s fiscal 2022 budget signed into law on July 16 by Gov. Charlie Baker.
Funds will be utilized for operations and certain grant-making initiatives, including the organization’s $800,000 Innovations in Anti-Racism to Address the Opioid Overdose Crisis grant program. The funding follows a $2 million appropriation in the fiscal 2021 budget passed earlier this year, which supported a number of RIZE programs, including the Harm Reduction Training (HaRT) Scholars initiative, which enables internships and specialized training for 32 HaRT Scholars at three Massachusetts schools of social work.
“The Massachusetts House is proud to support the work of RIZE Massachusetts in their fight against the opioid epidemic,” said Speaker of the House Ronald J. Mariano (D-Quincy). “It is critically important to support their mission at a time when overdose deaths are rising, particularly among people of color. Paired with hundreds of millions of dollars to address the opioid epidemic through the FY22 state budget, the funds appropriated for RIZE will make a big difference in the lives of those suffering from substance use disorder.”
“Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have lost ground in the fight against the opioid epidemic,” said Julie Burns, president and CEO of RIZE Massachusetts. “This funding will help us act quickly to stem the tide and save lives through innovative, meaningful and evidence-based interventions. I’d like to thank the Legislature and the Baker-Polito Administration for their continued support of our efforts and those of providers across the Commonwealth as we partner to reach the goal of zero stigma and zero deaths.”
“With the COVID-19 pandemic creating further barriers for those in need to seek treatment, substance use disorder has been a growing area of concern for the Commonwealth,” said Rep. Aaron Michlewitz (D-Boston), Chair of the House Committee on Ways and Means. “These critical funds secured through the budget process will be essential to combating these increases and will help us get a better handle on this epidemic. I want to applaud RIZE for their tireless work in this area and for their commitment to equity as we work toward recovery and better treatment outcomes for everyone.”
“Supporting the most vulnerable among us is a necessary and vital part of ensuring the Commonwealth’s equitable recovery, and that certainly includes support for those struggling with substance use disorder,” said Sen. Michael J. Rodrigues (D-Westport), Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means. “RIZE’s work has only become more crucial during the pandemic, and I thank them for all they do to improve treatment outcomes, combat stigma, and increase access to care across the Commonwealth.”
The budget amendment was introduced by Rep. Jon Santiago (D-Boston) and championed by several members of the Legislature who recognize the severity of the opioid epidemic in Massachusetts and how the COVID-19 pandemic has hampered efforts to reduce overdoses. In May, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health reported that overdose deaths in Commonwealth increased by 5 percent in 2020.
“The $2 million appropriation secured for RIZE is a key step forward in the fight to end the opioid epidemic,” said Rep. Santiago. “While the COVID-19 pandemic may have slowed down efforts to prevent overdoses, this funding is critical in helping us reduce harm and save lives. Thank you to Speaker Mariano and Chair Michlewitz for your support and to RIZE for your dedicated commitment toward the goal of zero stigma and zero deaths.”