May 20 2019 0comment

United Way of the Wabash Valley Awarded $200,000 HRSA Grant to Combat Opioid Use in Rural Counties

The Health Resources and Services Administration’s (HRSA) Federal Office of Rural Health Policy awarded $24 million for the second round of Rural Communities Opioid Response Program (RCORP) planning grants. United Way of the Wabash Valley is one of the recipients across 40 states who will receive $200,000 for one year to formalize partnerships with local stakeholders, conduct needs assessments, and develop plans to implement and sustain substance use disorder (SUD), including opioid use disorder (OUD), prevention, treatment, and recovery interventions.

“RCORP-Planning is part of a multi-year initiative by HRSA to support treatment for and prevention of SUD/OUD,” said HRSA Administrator George Sigounas, MS, Ph.D. “The goal is to reduce the morbidity and mortality of the diseases in high-risk rural communities.”

Last year the United Way of the Wabash Valley introduced a change in its framework, shifting to a collective impact process of convening multiple organizations to focus on a bold goal.  That bold goal is to move 10,000 families out of financial struggles and into stability by focusing impact councils on areas that can make a difference.  They have already established the Substance Use Disorders Impact Council which will focus on well-rounded approaches to supporting prevention and treatment solutions in the United Way’s 6-county service area (Clay, Parke, Sullivan, Vermillion, and Vigo in Indiana and Clark in Illinois).

These councils are multi-sector volunteer-led committees that bring together subject matter experts, people who are passionate about the issue, people whose lives are affected by the issue, business leaders, and other organizations working to affect that area.  Members of the impact councils will recommend and monitor the investment of United Way resources in order to bring successful results to their specified outcome targets in support of the overall United Way community goal to move households to financial stability.

This funding will allow for a dedicated effort by the Substance Use Disorders Impact Council to focus on the three counties of Sullivan, Parke, and Vermillion in order to address disparities that plague rural communities attempting to eradicate substance use disorder.

“Rural communities continue to face several challenges in accessing SUD/OUD prevention, treatment, and recovery services,” said Associate Administrator for the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy Tom Morris. “Over half of rural counties nationwide HRSA exit disclaimer lack a provider who is waivered to prescribe buprenorphine, and on average, rural opioid users are more likely to be uninsured, less educated, and lower income than their urban counterparts.”  Rural communities also face workforce shortages, geographic barriers, limited treatment infrastructure, and stigma associated with SUD/OUD.

Over the next year, the United Way’s Substance Use Disorders Impact Council will work along with other community partners to develop a plan.  “It’s really a needs assessment,” said Richard Payonk, the Executive Director of the United Way of the Wabash Valley. “To see what resources are already available in our community to address the opioid epidemic and then really think about what’s missing.”

The grant award “really makes a powerful case for why nonprofits working together in collaborative ways can tap into more resources for our community,” Payonk said.  These issues are too great for one organization to tackle alone.  The result of this grant investment will be the convening of many great individuals and organizations in these counties to work together to make a better and stronger community for all.


To review a complete list of all grant recipients

For more information about the RCORP initiative, please contact Federal Office of Rural Health Policy.

To learn more about how HRSA is addressing the opioid epidemic, visit

To learn more about the United Way of the Wabash Valley’s Substance Use Disorder Impact Council, visit