WESTBROOK — A Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration Partnerships for Success grant of $1.5 million to The Opportunity Alliance’s Public Health Program will go toward work with at-risk youth in Portland, South Portland, Westbrook and Bridgton.

The grant of $300,000 a year for five years will fund the Strategic Prevention Framework – Partnerships for Success project for youth who are at greatest risk for substance use and mental health disorders, including those aged 9-20 who have experienced trauma, are part of the immigrant and refugee community and/or identify as LGBT.

The project will focus on young people in specific neighborhoods: in Portland, East Bayside, Riverton and Parkside; in South Portland, Redbank/Brickhill; in Westbrook, Brown Street; and in Bridgton, Lower Main Street.

“School districts will participate in a Learning Community model geared at creating ‘breakthrough’ improvements in the area of student behavioral health by learning from other schools and experts in the field while also receiving school-based technical assistance from project staff,” said TOA’s Public Health Program Director Bridget O’Connor.  “In neighborhoods, staff will work with trusted community leaders, including TOA’s community builders, to try to bolster positive community experiences and opportunities. Overall the goal is to identify problems earlier and increase the ability for systems to support and treat behavioral health problems.”