Operation UNITE will be expanding its highly successful prevention initiatives to counties outside its current service region thanks to a $751,850 grant from the Kentucky Opioid Abatement Advisory Commission announced June 20.

Attorney General Russell Coleman, speaking at an event at DV8 Kitchen in Lexington, announced a total of $12,029,053 in grant funding to 51 organizations across Kentucky to bolster prevention, treatment, and enforcement efforts.

“Families across this Commonwealth continue to endure the darkness of addiction,” Coleman said. “But these abatement grants and the programs they support provide a glimmer of hope. (These) grant recipients are investing in bold ideas to forever change the trajectory of the drug crisis in Kentucky”

Currently, Operation UNITE (Unlawful Narcotics Investigations, Treatment and Education) provides direct services to a 33-county region across southern and eastern Kentucky. The grant will enable UNITE to expand into counties that are contiguous, although the exact counties have yet to be determined.

In September 2023, the Kentucky Opioid Abatement Advisory Commission awarded Operation UNITE a grant that enabled creation of a five-person “Educate. Empower. Prevent.” team focused specifically on providing prevention programs to students in grades 4-12.

Thursday’s grant supports continuation and expansion of the “Educate. Empower. Prevent.” program. This past school year, Prevention Team staff presented programs to more than 18,500 students.

The grant will enable UNITE to add two additional Area Prevention Coordinators, along with two additional UNITE Coalition Coordinators.

“Being afforded the ability to spread prevention programming in a manner that hasn’t occurred before is pivotal in this time, said Courtney Maynard, Operation UNITE’s Prevention Programs Coordinator.

“Operation UNITE holds strongly that it is our purpose to create hope and change the culture. This begins with educating our children on the dangers of substances and strengthening their abilities to make a choice to remain substance free,” Maynard stated. “Many of our youth are facing generational curses of substance misuse, and it is within our power to teach them how these chains can be broken.”

“Receiving funding to pour into this mission, and expand our reach, is not only necessary, but provides our adolescents with a fighting chance to make informed choices that impact their lives,” Maynard concluded.

The KY Opioid Abatement Advisory Commission, which is responsible for distributing the Commonwealth’s share of nearly $900 million recovered in opioid settlements, considered more than 160 applications seeking over $85 million. Commission members voted to approve the current awards earlier this month.

“Through this grant process, we’ve had the opportunity to see firsthand the extraordinary work being done to save lives in Kentucky,” said Chris Evans, Executive Director of the Commission. “I’m grateful to the Commission members and staff for their dedication and partnership that will promote real recovery across the Commonwealth.”