In this photo from Jan. 6, 2020, seventh- and eighth-grade students with the Mount Anthony Union Middle School Leadership Team work on creating posters for their anti-vaping campaign. The posters were being made in preparation for a forum co-hosted by MAUMS and the Alliance for Community Transformations, Bennington’s substance use prevention coalition.

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BENNINGTON — Alliance for Community Transformations has received a new five-year, $125,000 grant, allowing its coalition to continue its work to prevent first-time youth substance use, decrease overall use, and help create a healthier Bennington.

The Drug-Free Communities Grant was awarded by the Office of the White House and Office of National Drug Control Policy. The DFC program is the leading national effort to empower local community groups to prevent and reduce youth misuse of substances like tobacco, alcohol, and cannabis.

ACT was first awarded the DFC grant in 2014.

“From substance misuse prevention education in our schools to targeted community initiatives, ACT is steadfast in our commitment to supporting youth in making healthy decisions. This grant enables us to expand our efforts in the region and grow as a community resource,” said ACT Director Dare Chammings in a news release.

ACT works closely with partners across 12 community sectors. These include youth-serving organizations such as Bennington Center for Restorative Justice, local school districts, and healthcare organizations such as Southwestern Vermont Medical Center and the Vermont Department of Health.

“I’m excited to be working with ACT to expand prevention efforts in Bennington,” said Rachel Newton, who serves as a prevention consultant for the Department of Health. “With this DFC grant, ACT will continue their great work supporting healthy youth.”

Maryann Morris, executive director for The Collaborative, a substance misuse prevention organization in the Northshire of Bennington County, said she is pleased with the news of the DFC grant.

“The Collaborative and ACT have worked hard to ensure that Bennington County has the prevention support it needs to reduce the negative impacts of substance misuse,” Morris said. “ACT is an active and vibrant partner with strong and effective leadership, we are excited to continue our relationship and increase the opportunities to build healthier communities together.”

ACT considers youth perspective essential to its work, and gives youth opportunities to share their unique perspectives and lead initiatives to educate peers, inform the community, and address the needs of marginalized youth populations.

“Substance abuse is a serious danger facing students; this grant has the potential to help us in this fight. Being the youth representative for ACT has been a great experience, there are so many opportunities for learning and helping the community,” said Sophia Anisman, a Mount Anthony Union freshman and ACT’s youth representative.

ACT hosts annual events such as the popular Bennington Youth Appreciation Day and Youth Photovoice Contest, and serves on the Bennington County Regional Prevention Partnership, Shires Prescription Drug Alliance and the Bennington Opioid Response Team.

“Substance misuse prevention positively impacts ALL residents and strong community partnerships and diverse voices make our work possible,” Chammings said.

For more information, contact Chammings at


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