SYV People Helping People Awarded $223,516.80 to Youth Substance Use Prevention

SYV People Helping People Awarded $223,516.80 to Youth Substance Use Prevention title=
PHP Staff leading Cove Champion program:Marisela De La Cruz, Youth Specialist; Maggie Johnson, Youth Programs Director; Valerie Kissell, CEO; Adriana Reyes, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Coordinator
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Source: Santa Ynez Valley People Helping People

Santa Ynez Valley People Helping People (PHP) has been awarded $223,516.80 for youth substance use prevention activities through Elevate Youth California, to focus on the uniqueness of the messenger, as peer promotors, champions, will be selected, trained and supported to educate their peers on the adverse effects of cannabis and other substances. With the legalization of cannabis, many youth fee that it’s OK to use and are unaware of the potential adverse health risks and the legal implications of underage consumption.  Retail cannabis storefronts are throughout the community and marketing targets the younger population.

PHP and the Santa Ynez Valley Youth Coalition have served the community for 15 years providing education, diversion and prevention to our youth. Valerie Kissell, CEO of PHP states, “It is hard to find a family in our community that hasn’t felt the devastating impact of substance use disorders among their children. Either through medical issues or entanglement with the justice system, substance abuse can tear a family apart and have long lasting implications.”

Elevate Youth California, a project of The Center at Sierra Health Foundation under contract with the California Department of Health Care Services (DHCS), is funded by Proposition 64 revenue, which legalized adult non-medical use of cannabis in California. Awarded partner projects will work with youth ages 12 to 26 and provide youth social justice, peer support and mentoring in low-income communities of color, including Tribal communities and LGBTQ communities.

“Elevate Youth California prioritizes youth leadership and invests in healing and community growth,” said Chet P. Hewitt, president and CEO of Sierra Health Foundation and The Center. “Our new partners will work directly with youth to improve the environment of communities impacted by the War on Drugs, which has led to inequity in our health systems and the criminalization of youth in low-income communities and communities of color. California’s youth are talented, capable and ready for this investment.”

With the Cove Champions Project, PHP joins 60 additional community-based and Tribal organizations throughout California awarded a total of $52 million for youth substance use prevention activities in this round of funding. A full list of organizations that received awards is posted on the Elevate Youth California website.

“It is inspiring to see the level of positive change that the 61 culturally responsive Elevate Youth California community partners presented in their applications,” said Marlies Perez, chief of DHCS’ Community Services Division.” As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, and our young people re-engage in school and community, the third cohort of nonprofit community and Tribal partners have found innovative ways to meet the multiple complex needs of our young people.”

Elevate Youth California is funded through the DHCS Proposition 64 California Cannabis Tax Fund, Allocation 3, Youth Education Prevention Early Intervention and Treatment Account. Proposition 64 funding prioritizes youth education, prevention and early intervention. Elevate Youth California connects youth and their families to programs that include wraparound care in communities disproportionately harmed by past and current drug policies and criminalized for substance use disorder.

Learn more by contacting People Helping People at 805-686-0295.

About Santa Ynez Valley People Helping People: Founded in 1992, People Helping People is dedicated to improving the lives of individuals and families in the Santa Ynez Valley, Los Alamos, and surrounding communities by addressing emergency and basic needs, furnishing comprehensive integration family and individual support service, and acting as a catalyst for positive community change.

About Elevate Youth California: Elevate Youth California is a statewide program supporting community leaders who are addressing substance use disorder by investing in the youth leadership development and activism of youth of color and LGBTQ+ youth ages 12 to 26. Through Elevate Youth California, The Center at Sierra Health Foundation has awarded a total of $56.2 million in funding to support racially and culturally responsive, trauma-informed, population-based and place-based approaches to youth substance use prevention. Learn more at

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