KHYNNA KUPRIAN, Staff Writer

Hoosick Falls, N.Y. -- A national Drug Free Communities Mentoring grant was awarded to 19 urban neighborhoods across the country, and one rural agency -- Hoosick Armory Youth Center Community Coalition.

HAYC3 has partnered with nearby Troy, N.Y., to bring drug prevention awareness to the community's youth.

The two-year, $150,000 grant is provided by the Office of National Drug Control Policy, and will mostly go toward preventing substance abuse among young people in the city of Troy; although some monies will benefit HAYC3 as they offer their advice and experience to the project.

ONDCP awards two types of drug-free community grants, one that generally goes toward established coalitions who have some experience in the effort to keep youth away from drugs, and a second "mentoring" one, which is new and designed for communities to offer each other help and support, according to HAYC3 Executive Director Aelish Nealon.

"What Washington is seeing, and what I'm seeing and what I think the community is seeing, is some really exciting, positive change in a whole variety of areas," said Nealon, who is also the project manager for the new collaboration, and assisted Troy with their grant-writing process.

HAYC3 has previously received a 5-year drug free community grant, and is currently in its second and final cycle of receiving the award, which is set to run out in September 2015.

"The mentoring grant was not available when we first applied," said Nealon, noting that Troy will be eligible to receive the longer grant after they build up their experience and services.

"There is huge communal support in Troy," said Nealon. "They're an amazing city, primed to be successful."

On Troy's end, the effort will be run by Davia Collington, Community Prevention Specialist at Rensselaer County Mental Health Department. The grant-writing process was facilitated by Michele Grubb.

In a statement, Gil Kerlikowske, director of the ONDCP said, "For too many young people, the future is clouded by drug use, which inhibits their ability to remain healthy and safe and to achieve their full potential. We congratulate [HAYC3] on its work to raise a generation of young people equipped to remain drug-free."

The Drug-Free Communities Act of 1997 created the DFC program. Since 1998, ONDCP has awarded nearly 2,000 grants to local communities around this country, Puerto Rico, Guam, Palau, American Samoa, the U.S. Virgin Islands and the Federated States of Micronesia.

For more information visit www.whitehouse.gov/ondcp.

Contact Khynna at kkuprian@benningtonbanner.com and follow her on Twitter @khynnakat.