PCN Work Begins

Positive Community Norms Grant Brings Community Together for Lasting Change
Posted on 10/26/2021
Simley High SchoolLast spring, Inver Grove Heights Schools was chosen to receive a Positive Community Norms (PCN) Grant from the Minnesota Department of Human Services Behavioral Health Division. The grant will focus on showing Simley High School and Inver Grove Heights Middle School students that, despite what they may think, most of their peers actually do not use alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs. In doing so, grant activities will further improve the overall health and wellness of the Inver Grove Heights community.

Simley Social Worker Ingrid Holt and former assistant principal Sam Van Hefty applied for the grant as a way to act on the community’s readiness to work together for positive change. In the process of applying for the grant, Ms. Holt and Mr. Van Hefty gathered letters of support from 14 different community collaborators, including parents, students, non-profit organizations, faith-based communities, and local businesses.

The grant work and community coalition will take an evidence-based approach to reducing misperceptions in the schools and community, which will, in turn, help reduce substance use among students to even lower levels.

“Other communities have already worked through their cycle of the grant, and they have really seen the alcohol, tobacco, and other drug use go down in their communities for youth,” said Ms. Holt.

The grant provides $1 million over its five-year cycle to begin putting community action into place that will further reduce and delay substance use among young people, specifically looking at community-level data to address alcohol, nicotine, and marijuana use among students. The grant has allowed Simley to hire PCN grant coordinator Angie Bierly. Ms. Bierly earned her bachelor’s degree in counseling for youth and families from Augsburg College and is currently working on her master’s degree. Her work experience includes being ISD 197’s restorative justice coordinator and a guidance counselor and county trainer for both Dakota and Ramsey counties.

As PCN grant coordinator, Ms. Bierly is in the process of developing a community coalition that will create a strategic plan to decrease risk factors for substance use and help prevent substance use. She will also partner with IGH Middle School and Simley health teachers, present to school staff about how to talk with students about drug use and prevention techniques, coordinate grade-level assemblies, establish student groups at the middle and high schools, and implement other strategies to change community thinking about alcohol, tobacco, and drug use.

The PCN community coalition has 18 members so far. All IGH community members, employers, and leaders are invited to get involved. To learn more about the coalition, please contact Ms. Bierly at [email protected] or 651-306-7061.