Reaching Rural Initiative

On behalf of the U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA); the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; the State Justice Institute; and the National Association of Counties, the Institute for Intergovernmental Research is excited to share with you a new initiative, Reaching Rural: Advancing Collaborative Solutions.

This new initiative is grounded in the value of “for rural, by rural.” The hallmark of the Reaching Rural initiative is learning from rural practitioners and facilitating engagement across rural communities.

What is the Reaching Rural initiative?

The Reaching Rural initiative is a one-year initiative. Over the course of the year, the selected individuals and teams will receive coaching and participate in skill-building workshops as well as virtual and in-person learning experiences.

Participation in the Reaching Rural initiative includes:

  • Travel and per diem costs to participate in an orientation, a field visit to observe the implementation of evidence-informed practices in a rural setting, and a closing session at the end of the 12 months. This is not a grant opportunity.
  • Monthly mentorship and guidance aimed toward your local needs.
  • Monthly assignments that help you apply core concepts to your local community or region.
  • Access to a diverse network of rural peers, innovative rural communities, and technical assistance providers.
  • Formal recognition for completing the planning initiative.

Is the Reaching Rural initiative for You?

We are seeking individual practitioners or cross-sector teams from the same community or region interested in adopting bold solutions and reimagining how diverse organizations and agencies with different missions can engage with one another to address the persistent challenge of substance use and misuse in rural communities.

The Reaching Rural initiative is designed for rural agency leaders or mid-level professionals working in counties, cities, or tribes as justice, public safety, public health, or behavioral health practitioners.

Applicants may apply to participate in the Reaching Rural initiative as an individual practitioner or as a member of a cross-sector team from the same community or region. Participation is limited to up to 20 individual practitioners and up to 10 cross-sector teams.

Read the Solicitation

The deadline for applying is September 30, 2022, at 5:00 p.m., ET.

Curious to Learn More?

If you want to learn more about this initiative and application process, join us for an informational webinar on August 31, 2022, at 2:00 p.m., ET. Register at

You can also email us with questions at

International Never Give Up Day

August 18th is International Never Give Up Day. This day is a global celebration of cultivating a mindset of determination. Our experiences working and living with people affected by the opioid epidemic brings us into daily contact with those who “never give up.” This is a day to celebrate them! Go to for some ideas on how to acknowledge their determination and to thank those that have helped you through your own journey.

National Parents Day (July 24th)

July 24th is National Parents Day. It is meant to recognize “outstanding parents, celebrate the teamwork in raising children, and support the role of parental guidance in building a strong, stable society.” Those involved in work with substance use disorders know that parenting with an SUD is difficult for the entire family. In 2017, there were nearly 9 million children (12% of the total population of children in the U.S.) living with a parent with an SUD. The factsheet in the link offers resources available to support all members of a family struggling with the consequences of substance misuse.

The Fourth of July!

The Fourth of July! Independence Day! July brings one of the biggest holidays of the year and a favorite party weekend for summer. While we enjoy the cookouts, fireworks, and other fun activities, these festivities can be triggers for people living in recovery, especially those that are in the early phases. Numerous recovery program websites offer similar tips for staying safe and sober during events while still enjoying the holiday with friends and family: have a plan including an exit strategy, stick with sober buddies & have a friend to call, host your own alcohol-free event, and stay centered and focused on your recovery. In the spirit of celebrating July 4th with cool summer drinks, follow these links for some “mocktail” recipes and other sober libations!

National Fentanyl Awareness Day (May 19th)

May 10th is set to be the first ever National Fentanyl Awareness Day. The aim is to raise awareness about illicit fentanyl in counterfeit pills and illicit drugs that has been the primary cause in recent increases in overdose deaths, particularly among 14-to-23-year-olds. The call-to-action is simple: spread the word on social media with the hashtag #NationalFentanylAwarenessDay. This effort is the result of a coalition of nonprofit organizations, corporations, government agencies, and schools with an Advisory Council of experts in drug policy, public health, harm reduction, internet safety, and neuroscience. Head on over to the website (linked above) for more information and resources.

National Prevention Week (May 8-14th)

May 8-14 is National Prevention Week (NPW) sponsored by SAMHSA. The purpose of NPW is to provide a national public education platform to bring together communities and organizations to raise awareness about the importance of substance use prevention and positive mental health. May 8th not only kicks off NPW but is also National Prevention Day. SAMHSA starts the week off with a free virtual conference. The website also has resources that communities can use to promote NPW and ongoing prevention strategies throughout the year.

National Public Health Week

April 4th-10th is National Public Health Week. The opioid epidemic is a priority for many public health institutions, such as the CDC, the Department of Health and Human Services, and the Office of the Surgeon General, to name a few. One of RCORP’s objectives is to expand harm reduction programs in our rural communities. Harm reduction strategies can affect public health by reducing overdose fatalities, life-threatening infections related to drug injection, and chronic diseases like HIV and hepatitis. To learn more about how harm reduction programs can improve public health, visit the SAMHSA website.

Stress Awareness Month

April is Stress Awareness Month. While observed mostly in the UK, recognizing stress as a potential stumbling-block to well-being is certainly a worldwide endeavor. When applying it to our RCORP community, untreated stress has long been recognized as a driving element to initial substance misuse and relapse. Learning stress management skills not only helps individuals struggling with substance misuse issues but can also help those who support them. Visit the Stress Awareness Month link for resources on maintaining healthy stress levels.