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Our Town. Our Health. Our Future.—2014 Town Hall Meetings

11/20/2013

Be on the lookout for e-mail invitations in January! The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) will support Underage Drinking Prevention Town Hall Meetings in 2014. E-mail invitations to community-based organizations like yours will be sent in January. In addition, the Town Hall Meeting pages at http://www.stopalcoholabuse.gov will be updated and refreshed, with a new user-friendly registration process and SAMHSA’s 2014 theme for these events, Our Town. Our Health. Our Future.

To help your organization begin discussing its plans for the 2014 Town Hall Meeting initiative, here are some of the basics, for those new to the initiative, and some news and reminders, for those who have participated in earlier rounds. For detailed information, visit https://www.stopalcoholabuse.gov/TownHallMeetings.

What Are SAMHSA-Sponsored Town Hall Meetings?

SAMHSA, as the lead agency for the Interagency Coordinating Committee on the Prevention of Underage Drinking, has coordinated nationwide Town Hall Meetings in 2006, 2008, 2010, and 2012 and is now sponsoring a fifth round in 2014. SAMHSA engages community-based organizations to host the events. Typically, they are a collaborative effort of many community sectors, including youth. The goals of Town Hall Meetings are:

  • Educating community members about underage drinking consequences;
  • Empowering communities to use evidence-based approaches to stop underage drinking, including environmental prevention, and parent-focused messages, such as those included in SAMHSA’s “Talk. They Hear You.” Campaign; and
  • Mobilizing communities to support underage drinking prevention initiatives at the local, state, and national levels.

Town Hall Meetings:

  • Are open to the public;
  • Provide for audience discussion; and
  • Lead to results that can be measured and reported.

Many Town Hall Meetings are conducted bilingually or completely in Spanish or another non-English language. Increasingly, underage youth themselves are assigned key roles in Town Hall Meeting planning, promotion, and presentations.

Who Can Hold a SAMHSA-Sponsored Town Hall Meeting?

Any nonprofit organization is welcome to use materials and information in the Town Hall Meeting pages at http://www.stopalcoholabuse.gov.

SAMHSA issues e-mail invitations to register as a host to community-based organizations recommended by members of the National Prevention Network, to federal grantees, and to local chapters recommended by SAMHSA’s national partner organizations. Invited registrants may request a SAMHSA planning stipend to help defray costs when they register.

What Is Expected of Registered Town Hall Meeting Hosts?

Although SAMHSA encourages participating community-based organizations to tailor Town Hall Meetings to address local needs, registering and requesting a planning stipend includes your making a commitment to the following responsibilities:

  • Registration of full event details in the Town Hall Meeting database.
  • Engagement of the community in a discussion of underage drinking and its consequences and of evidence-based prevention.
  • Completion of a short survey about the event as soon as possible after the event.
  • Solicitation of feedback, if asked to do so by SAMHSA, from Town Hall Meeting attendees. SAMHSA will provide feedback materials.
  • Provision of electronic copies of your Town Hall Meeting promotional materials (e.g., flyers) and copies of media reports about your events. Providing these materials to SAMHSA is not required but helps create a comprehensive record of the nationwide effort. Acknowledgment of SAMHSA support in your Town Hall materials is welcomed and shows that your Town Hall Meeting is part of a nationwide initiative.

Participating organizations may be contacted to help develop a Town Hall Meeting success story article, or they may contact info@stopalcoholabuse.net to propose such an article.

How Can the Planning Stipend Be Used?

The planning stipend is meant to help defray the costs of planning and holding an event. You may use the stipend to cover costs such as facilities rental, printing, and promotion. If guest speakers are unwilling to donate their services, the stipend may be used to cover their honorarium.

These stipends may NOT be used to pay for food and beverages, entertainment, door prizes, discounts, incentive giveaways, promotional products (e.g., T-shirts, baseball caps, or coffee mugs), or for anything not specifically related to planning and conducting Underage Drinking Prevention Town Hall Meetings.

A Town Hall Meeting might be conducted at a country fair or other community gathering that would attract a large audience. However, tacking a presentation on underage drinking onto some other planned activity may not qualify for SAMHSA support or recognition. If you are uncertain about your plan, contact info@stopalcoholabuse.net with your questions.

Social media can be used to help plan, promote, and report Town Hall Meetings. But a Twitter chat or a Facebook discussion would not be eligible for a SAMHSA planning stipend.

SAMHSA encourages organizations to reach out to other organizations, agencies, and businesses in the community to supplement the stipend by donating services, supplies, or separate funding.

Should 2014 Town Hall Meetings Have a Theme?

For 2014, SAMHSA suggests Our Town. Our Health. Our Future. as a theme that participating organizations may use to signify their participation in the nationwide initiative. SAMHSA will encourage its partners and spokespersons to use the Our Town. Our Health. Our Future. theme, and it will appear on the Town Hall Meeting website pages and materials. Use of this or another theme is the decision of each participating community-based organization and not a requirement.

Where Can Town Hall Meeting Planners Get Help and Resources?

Town Hall Meeting pages within the federal web portal at http://www.stopalcoholabuse.gov offer many free tools, downloadable materials, and other resources to help you hold a successful Town Hall Meeting. Individual technical assistance may be requested in an e-mail message to info@stopalcoholabuse.net or in a toll-free voice message at 1–866–419–2514.