As opioids increasingly impact the health and welfare of local communities, Michigan State University is joining state and federal efforts to combat the growing national epidemic.
The Opioid Prevention and Education Network, or OPEN-MSU, funded by the National Corporation for Public Service and coordinated by MSU’s Office of University Outreach and Engagement, will serve as a conduit that builds partnerships and increases support for local organizations addressing opioid abuse, addiction and overdose.
Nonprofits across the state, such as community health agencies, justice systems and other public or 501(c)3 groups, can apply to be a host site for the OPEN-MSU program. After identifying the sites, the program will place AmeriCorps VISTA volunteers in them to build capacity and develop strategies to support opioid abuse prevention. These full-time volunteers receive training, professional development and financial benefits for one year of intensive civic engagement experience.
“The opioid crisis is something that affects Americans’ lives at every level,” said Ginna Holmes, executive director of the Michigan Community Service Commission, the state’s lead agency on volunteerism. “We’re thrilled that the National Corporation for Community Service has provided AmeriCorps resources to combat this issue in Michigan. In addition, MSU has an existing infrastructure that will manage a vast network of federal, state and local needs, while keeping the project moving forward.”
Designed as a cost-share partnership – not a treatment facility for addicted patients or their families – all parties contribute to the success and outcomes of battling opioid addiction. MSU will provide assistance recruiting and onboarding volunteers, training them in project management and leadership, and coordinate grant reporting, oversight and management.
“MSU is uniquely situated to address the goals of this mutually beneficial and collaborative program,” said Laurie Van Egeren, interim associate provost for University Outreach and Engagement. “The OPEN-MSU project will leverage the assets of the university and communities across Michigan to create a network that targets this deeply damaging problem.”
Jessica Barnes-Najor, associate director for the MSU Community Evaluation and Research Collaborative in University Outreach and Engagement, will lead OPEN-MSU.
“We welcome the opportunity to join federal, state and local efforts that deal with this growing crisis in a multi-faceted approach,” said Barnes-Najor. “It is an honor to support local efforts to prevent and treat opioid abuse by providing research and expertise from across the University as we work together.”
The OPEN-MSU Advisory Council includes representatives from MSU Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Institute for Health Policy, College of Human Medicine Division of Public Health, School of Criminal Justice, North Central Regional Center for Rural Development, College of Nursing, MSU Extension and the Center for Service-Learning and Civic Engagement, as well as the Inter-Tribal Council of Michigan and the Ingham County Health Department.
Information is available on the OPEN-MSU website.