In response to the opioid crisis, a newly organized group of funders emerged, committed to investing in a set of public health-oriented responses designed to proactively reframe the way we as a society address substance use (SU) and addiction.

Vision & Mission

Funders collaboratively developed and regularly revisit the mission and vision statements in order to be as proactive and effective as possible.


To create healthy communities where all people, regardless of race, class, ethnicity, sex, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, age, ability, or other defining characteristic benefit equitably. To create systems, policies, and practices where all people are treated with compassion and dignity, regardless of how or whether they use illegal drugs.


To leverage the action, investments, and leadership of the philanthropic community to advance a holistic, culturally effective, community-based health and social service strategy to address substance use, misuse and addiction that is rooted in individual and public health policy and practice.

Key Principles

We believe philanthropy can and should play a critical role in advancing practice and policy that results in a high quality, comprehensive, culturally, and linguistically effective, person centered, community-based substance use system of care.

We recognize that philanthropy wields extraordinary power, has a lot to learn and has often been a part of promulgating punitive racially divisive programming. We seek to use this collaboration to learn from one another and gain the tools to listen to our colleagues, grantees, and communities more effectively and humbly. We recognize that it takes time to build effective equitable policies and programs, that language is important and that this journey will require us to humbly learn from and rectify past and future mistakes while continuing to engage.

The coalition seeks to learn and work together to support philanthropic efforts that: (1) eliminate all forms of discrimination and stigma; (2) increase recognition of SUD as health condition requiring a non-punitive individual and public health approach; (3) increase access to and support for culturally and linguistically effective evidence informed practices and practice based evidence across the substance use spectrum — spanning prevention to recovery support; (4) strengthen research and evaluation of current culturally and linguistically effective practices and promote innovation; (5) share learning to expand current knowledge of effective policies and practice; (6) include the diverse voices of those impacted by substance use and past punitive responses to use including justice, child welfare, education, housing and other societal systems. The following principles further articulate a set of core beliefs that the participating funders share and are committed to advancing:

Embracing Equitable and Effective Upstream Approaches, including but not limited to addressing Social Determinants of Health, as Essential Element of Response

  • Health promotion, prevention and early identification of substance use, and related risk factors like childhood adversity and trauma, particularly among young people and other vulnerable populations must be included to shift away from a singular focus on crisis response.

Community Based Epicenter of Care

  • Substance use, including but not limited to opioids, should be addressed by culturally and linguistically effective systems of care based in public health principles, integrated into physical and behavioral health systems, and rooted in the community not the justice system. These systems must identify and rectify areas of inequitable services and outcomes.
  • Services should be tailored based on the best available evidence and information and should recognize the importance of practice-based evidence. But broader policy and practice reforms should also consider the implications and consequences of innovations in care for all of those affected by all types of substance use and not just a singular drug trend.

Person Centered System of care

  • Funders seek to work in partnership with diverse communities to identify, help create and support an equitable, cohesive, person-centered vision of culturally and linguistically effective systems that engage people along the substance use continuum.

Health Equity and racial justice are used as a central lens for system, policy, and programming work.

  • Funders are committed to social justice principles and helping government and advocates engage diverse communities, particularly communities that have been disproportionately affected by substance use and society’s systemic punitive responses, to ensure that systems, policies, and programs are designed to facilitate equitable access to and outcomes from culturally effective evidence-informed substance use services for all people.

Cross Sector Partnership for holistic equitable non-punitive solutions

  • Funders seek to work with partners to develop cross system approaches for those affected by substance use. Inequities tied to substance use and addiction are embedded across systems and therefore cross sector approaches across housing, health, education, child welfare, criminal justice and beyond are needed. These approaches should include culturally and linguistically effective, evidence-informed solutions and support to develop and evaluate innovative programming, partnerships, and outcome measures in the substance use service area.
  • There is limited health quality data in the addiction field and what does exist is not disaggregated in a way that can usefully identify and eliminate equity. This gap often leads people to make assumptions based on implicit and explicit bias and can lead to dangerous conclusions. Efforts are needed to advocate for data to be collected and disaggregated in ways that preserve privacy and do not lead to punitive responses like loss of custody of a child, arrest or incarceration.

The collaborative/coalition provides opportunities to

  • Interact with local, state, and national level funders who currently invest in, or are developing plans to, specifically invest in substance use related issues to share learning, strategies, and related grant-making information.
  • Engage with a national network of funders with various levels of investment and focus to advance a common vision.
  • Align with diverse stakeholders and beneficiaries of SU services to engage and amplify their voice at decision-making tables affecting their health, to build the body of research and data collection that will address their desired outcomes and to ensure responses are equitable across communities. This may require funders to step back from some tables.
  • Proactively shape the learning and policy activities of the collaborative through participation using opportunities within each to network, share learning, and contribute.
    • The network provides a broad space for members to lead, participate in and plan learning, sharing and policy calls. The focus of these calls might include new national and state level policy/political opportunities and challenges, equity frames, innovative programming, strategy, communications efforts, successes, and challenges other funders have faced in the field and more.
    • The network also provides the opportunity to more proactively work in a leadership capacity to coordinate, collaborate and lend a voice to broader field efforts aligned with the vision and mission of the group. For example, such efforts may include shared grant-making, aligning efforts and grant making within regions where many grant makers are working, and joint communication efforts, responses to national, state, or local regulations and other opportunities brought to the group. Broadly speaking, the intent is to jointly seek opportunities where catalytic giving or a shared voice could move national and state systems closer to developing and sustaining culturally and linguistically effective evidence informed services for those impacted/affected by substance use and/or punitive systemic responses to substance use. Note that such efforts are not intended to supplant government and private efforts.

Learn more

For more information on how to join, dues, and governance process please contact us.