OPEN Project

Activating BC communities to prevent and respond to opioid overdose

The Overdose Prevention and Education Network (OPEN) is a special project coordinated by the Community Action Initiative (CAI) that dedicates $1.1M in grants, training, and other supports to community-based mental health and substance use organizations across the province. The goal of OPEN is to address BC’s opioid overdose crisis by activating local communities and increasing their ability to serve those in need. Initially, each organization in OPEN received a convening grant to build a coalition with their partners and other community members. Organizations were encouraged to explore new collaborations, especially with those having direct experience of substance use and overdose, over the year-long process. Following this process, newly formed and existing overdose coalitions were invited to present their community action plans at the “Groundswell: Communities leading local action on overdose” knowledge exchange, and apply for the Local Action Grant to implement their plan over 12 months. The OPEN project provides organizations with training and support aimed at strengthening their capacity, and access to resources such as a Community of Practice. Currently, OPEN funds ten lead organizations, with the aim of increasing that number in February 2018.

OPEN Project Coordinator – Prairie Chiu

Contact information: 604-638-1172 Ext.121 [email protected]

Local Action Grants Guidelines and Application Form – Deadline March 1, 2018

OPEN_Local Action Grant Guidelines and Application

OPEN Convening Grant reporting documents:

CAI_Activities Summary_OPEN

CAI_Event Summary Guidelines_OPEN

OPEN Advisory Committee – Terms of Reference:

TOR for OPEN Advisory Committee_Feb 2019

What type of organizations are part of OPEN?

OPEN organizations within the mental health and substance use sector are community-based, direct service, and non-profit. Successful applicants to OPEN's convening grants demonstrated the following:
• Proven leadership in substance use or mental health field
• Ability to serve as a catalyst for social change
• Successful engagement with a broad range of community-based service providers
• Ability to develop a community-wide overdose response coalition
• Teleconference and in-person meeting capabilities
• Mobilization and engagement of youth, Aboriginal Peoples, and persons who use drugs and their families

Community overdose coalitions who qualify for OPEN's Local Action Grants demonstrate the following:
- Coalition/workgroup/taskforce/committee must meet regularly, engage a wide variety of stakeholders (e.g. First Nations/Aboriginal Peoples, youth, housing and shelter providers, education, faith-based organizations, medical providers, law enforcement, corrections), and be able to demonstrate cooperation and collaboration between members.

What is an OPEN Convening Grant?

An OPEN Convening Grant provides $15,000 to eligible organizations for the purposes of building partnerships and coalitions within their communities to address overdose. Over the period of 12 months, organizations undertake this work through events such as forums, town halls, or symposiums. The OPEN Convening Grant culminates in a community action plan.

What is an OPEN Local Action Grant?

OPEN Local Action Grants provide community-based coalitions with $20,000-$40,000 towards implementation of an overdose response Community Action Plan over a 12 month period.

The purpose of the Local Action Grants is to support overdose prevention and response efforts that are community directed and led and address local needs. OPEN’s overall aim is to strengthen capacity among BC’s community based mental health and substance use sector to better prevent and respond to opioid overdose. Strong community coalitions have been built across BC to address local opioid and overdose issues, and CAI is committed to providing support to further strengthen their efforts. In addition to providing a grant, OPEN support may be in the form of training, formalizing communities of practice, and other resources.

OPEN has $600,000 allocated for Local Action Grants and support throughout the 12-month term of the grant.

What kind of projects are funded?

OPEN Local Action Grants fund projects that are actionable, community-level strategies that can be managed as a project and initiated and completed within the 12-month term of the grant. Projects can be standalone, or part of a comprehensive Community Action Plan, in which multiple smaller projects form a part of a larger overall local strategy.

What training opportunities does OPEN provide to organizations in its network?

OPEN is currently working with educator Vikki Reynolds, PhD, to develop a series of training videos related to sustainability in overdose response work.

OPEN is exploring additional training opportunities for organizations. Contact us if you have a suggestion!

What additional support does OPEN provide to organizations in its network?

In addition to training, resources created by CAI and those of our provincial partners are made available on

OPEN also creates opportunities for organizations across the province to collaborate through, teleconferences, and through large in-person knowledge exchange events such as "Groundswell."

How do I become an OPEN organization?

Contact us for more details!

What makes OPEN Project grants different?

OPEN provides a unique opportunity for organizations to gather their community members together, assess needs, build new partnerships, and come up with innovative strategies and responses to the opioid overdose crisis. OPEN grants are not tied to direct service outcomes. As a provincially-funded non-profit agency, CAI’s mission is to increase the voice of community-based mental health and substance use organizations, strengthen their capacity, and support community-led solutions to public health challenges. Since its inception in 2008, CAI has invested over $12 million in 600 plus organizations across BC.

Who is on the Advisory Committee for OPEN?

The OPEN Advisory Committee currently has representation from:

Overdose Emergency Response Centre (OERC); From Grief to Action
Matsqui-Abbotsford Impact Society
Pacific AIDS Network (PAN)
Canadian Institute of Substance Use Research (CISUR)
Metro Vancouver Aboriginal Executive Council (MVAEC)
First Nations Health Authority (FNHA)
BC Government and Service Employees’ Union (BCGEU)
Vancouver Foundation (VF)
Vancouver Aboriginal Community Policing Centre (VACPC)