The Drug-Free Communities (DFC) program has been a central, bi-partisan component of our nation’s demand reduction strategy since its passage in 1998. The consistent and steady growth of the program from $10 million in 1998 to $100 million in 2019 and the number of grantees (from 92 original grantees to more than 2,000 grantees) is a testament to the program’s popularity. The premise of the DFC program is simple – that communities around the country must be organized and equipped to deal with their individual substance misuse problems in a comprehensive and coordinated manner. 

The Drug-Free Communities (DFC) Program at a Glance 

  • The DFC program has been a central, bipartisan component of our nation’s demand reduction strategy since its passage in 1998 because it recognizes that the drug issue must be dealt with in every home town in America. 

  • Housed in the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), it provides the funding necessary for communities to identify and respond to local drug and alcohol use problems. 

  • The DFC program recognizes that in order to be sustainable over time, it must have community buy-in. In order to be eligible to apply for a DFC grant, a local coalition must: 

    • Be in existence for 6 months prior to applying; 

    • Have community wide-data for planning, implementation, and evaluation; 

    • Target the entire community with effective strategies; 

    • Provide a dollar-for-dollar match for every federal dollar (up to $125,000/year);

    • Target the entire community with effective strategies; and 

    • Have community wide involvement to reduce youth drug, alcohol and tobacco use, which must include:

Youth Religious or Fraternal Organizations
Parents Law Enforcement
Businesses Civic or Volunteer Groups
Media Healthcare Professionals
Schools Other Organizations Involved in Reducing Substance Misuse
Youth Serving Organizations  
  • Despite the growth of the program from $10 million in 1998 to $100 million in 2019, since its inception there has only been enough money to fund 34.4 percent of those who have applied for funds. 
  • DFC grantees have reduced drug use and misuses in communities throughout the country to levels lower than the national average because they are organized, data-driven, and take a comprehensive, multi-sector approach to solving and addressing drug issues. 

  • DFC coalitions are singularly situated to deal with emerging drug trends, such as methamphetamine, prescription drug misuse and synthetic drugs because they have the necessary infrastructure in place to effectively address drug-related issues within their communities. 

  • The DFC program is a worthy investment of scarce federal resources: 

    • It is not only effective in reducing youth drug use, but many DFC grantees are currently matching two to three times as much as the federal grant funding they receive; and 

    • DFC grantees have clearly shown they can prevent and reduce drug use in communities nationwide. 

National Evaluation of the Drug-Free Communities (DFC) Support Program 

The DFC grant program takes a comprehensive, multi-sector and data-driven approach to prevent and reduce youth substance use/misuse in communities throughout the United States. The White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) recently released the findings for its National Evaluation of the DFC Program. 

The Findings to Date - Rates of Substance Use are Dropping in DFC Communities: 

Prevalence of past 30-day use declined significantly across all substances (alcohol, tobacco, marijuana
and prescription drugs) and school levels (middle and high school) between DFC coalitions’ first and
most recent data reports.