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Frequently Asked Questions

GENERAL FAQs

What is Communities Talk: Town Hall Meetings to Prevent Underage Drinking?

When will Communities Talk: Town Hall Meetings to Prevent Underage Drinking take place?

Can I participate if I am not an event host?

How can I find an event near me?


REGISTRATION FAQ

Is there a registration deadline to confirm my organization’s participation?

Is there a specific time period in which to hold an event?

Is there a prescribed format for an event?


STIPEND FAQs

How does my organization obtain a planning stipend?

When does an organization have to respond to a stipend offer?

How can the planning stipend be used?

Are there other limits on stipends?

When can an organization expect to receive its planning stipend?

Does an organization need to report its stipend?


EVENT FAQs

Can a Town Hall Meeting be a part of another activity?

Are there lessons learned from past Town Hall Meeting initiatives on hosting a successful event?


ACCOUNT FAQs

Can I use any e-mail address as my username for my account?

What are the password requirements?


INTENT FAQs

Is there a registration deadline to confirm my organization’s participation?

Is there a specific time period in which to hold a Communities Talk: Town Hall Meeting to Prevent Underage Drinking?

Is there a prescribed format for an event?


PROFILE FAQs

Who is eligible to participate?

How are the stipends issued?

Why is a secondary contact required?


EVENT RECAP FAQs

What is an event recap?

What should I include in my event recap?

Still have a question?


GENERAL FAQs

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), the lead agency for the Interagency Coordinating Committee on the Prevention of Underage Drinking, has sponsored nationwide Town Hall Meetings since 2006. Community-based organizations, together with youth, colleges and universities, host events to:

  • Educate community members about underage and high-risk drinking consequences;
  • Empower communities to use evidence-based approaches, including environmental prevention, to reduce underage and high-risk drinking; and
  • Mobilize communities around underage and high-risk drinking prevention initiatives at the local, state, and national levels.

SAMHSA will support a sixth round of Communities Talk: Town Hall Meetings to Prevent Underage Drinking in 2016.

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SAMHSA encourages event hosts to hold events as part of Communities Talk: Town Hall Meetings to Prevent Underage Drinking during the 2016 calendar year to build momentum around a national dialogue about underage drinking prevention.  Many organizations hold their events in the spring, because April is Alcohol Awareness Month and SAMHSA’s National Prevention Week occurs May 18–24, 2016, with Underage Drinking Prevention Day being May 19, 2016.Read the underage drinking prevention planning calendar for a list of more observances. Hosts can also hold an event to respond to a timely community need or issue.

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Yes, anyone can help; everyone is needed. Local businesses can partner with host organizations by contributing goods and services, such as food and drinks, giveaways, and other incentives.  Individuals can help by volunteering their expertise, as event organizers and expert speakers, or by encouraging people to attend. Find out how you can help by contacting an event host in your area.  Host organizations are listed on the searchable Find a Meeting map.

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Visit the Find a Meeting map and click on your state or territory, or enter your ZIP code for a listing of meetings near you.  If no meetings appear, either expand the distance from your location or click on the state or territory to see its full list.

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If you are responding to SAMHSA’s offer of a stipend, each e-mail invitation includes a deadline. There is no registration deadline for organizations planning to hold a Town Hall Meeting without SAMHSA’s financial support.

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Although SAMHSA encourages most organizers to hold their events between March and May, Town Hall Meeting hosts can conduct their events anytime of the year. Read the planning calendar with a list of national observances. Hosts can also consider holding an event to respond to a timely community need or issue.

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No, there is no set format for an event. Events can be conducted in a physical location or via the Internet. They can also take several approaches. Sample ideas include a panel discussion, student presentation, roundtable, open-microphone community forum, or webinar. For more ideas, read the Success Stories on the Town Hall Meetings website. Although creativity is encouraged, SAMHSA expects Town Hall Meetings to:

  • Be open to the public;
  • Inform participants about the consequences of underage drinking and evidence-based measures to prevent it;
  • Encourage audience discussion of solutions to the problem;
  • Engage community members in pursuing prevention actions; and
  • Lead to results that can be measured and reported.

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SAMHSA issues e-mail invitations to community-based organizations and to colleges and universities, recommended by state and territory National Prevention Network (substance abuse prevention) representatives and other national partner organizations. Qualified, participating community-based organizations may request a $500 planning stipend to help offset the costs of planning an event. Only one planning stipend is issued per community-based organization or collaborative.

A limited number of stipends are available. Stipends are distributed on a first-come, first-served basis, so register early. June 30 is the final date when stipend requests can be processed, although available funds may be exhausted before that time.

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Funds are limited, so requests are first come, first served. As such, we encourage organizations to respond immediately to a stipend invitation to increase their chance of receiving one. Typically, no stipend requests are processed later than June 30.

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The planning stipend is meant to help offset the costs of planning and holding an event. Stipends can cover costs, such as facility rentals, printing, and promotion.

Stipends cannot 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 anything not specifically related to planning and conducting a Town Hall Meeting for the prevention of underage drinking.

SAMHSA encourages organizations to reach out to other community groups, agencies, and businesses in the community to supplement the stipend by donating services, supplies, or separate funding. Contact info@stopalcoholabuse.net with questions about how to use the planning stipend. Or check out the Tips and Resources and Success Stories sections of the Town Hall Meetings website.

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Yes. Limited funding allows only one stipend per organization serving the same community. Affiliates of the same organization, but serving different communities, may be eligible for separate stipends. Contact info@stopalcoholabuse.net for details.

SAMHSA requires one event for each stipend—organizations cannot pool their stipends to conduct one large-scale Town Hall Meeting. SAMHSA encourages coalitions and other community-based organizations to work with their business partners to provide food, as appropriate, and giveaways and to leverage their stipends to garner in-kind contributions of services and materials to achieve their meeting goals.

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A check is normally mailed about 7 to 10 days after an event host registers and uploads a completed Form W-9. Organizers who have not been notified within 2 weeks of registering whether a check has been mailed should contact info@stopalcoholabuse.net. Once you receive your check, please cash it as soon as possible; the check will be void after 120 days.

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No. Stipends are not grants. Once your organization submits a Form W-9 during the registration process, this income is reported to the federal government. SAMHSA does ask all participating organizations to log in to their online registration after their Town Hall Meeting to answer brief questions about their event and complete an e-mail survey.

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Yes, a Town Hall Meeting can be combined with another community event, as long as underage drinking prevention is a key, related topic. For example, underage drinking prevention could be discussed along with prevention and reduction of HIV/AIDS, school and sexual violence, drug abuse, or other public health problems.

Remember that the purpose of a Town Hall Meeting is to mobilize communities around prevention. Distributing brochures at a health fair, posting information about underage drinking on a Facebook page, or holding an alcohol-free event for small groups of students does not meet this standard. If you are uncertain about your event plan, contact info@stopalcoholabuse.net with your questions.

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Hosts from past Town Hall Meetings have shared the following tips to help new hosts hold a successful event:

  • Familiarize yourself with the Town Hall Meetings website before you start planning. Over the last year, SAMHSA has been updating the website with the latest data, new Success Stories, and up-to-date ways to plan, promote, and evaluate your event.
  • Focus the purpose of the meeting to a specific objective (e.g., policy change, campus security, knowing signs of alcohol poisoning/blackouts, social hosting, drinking and driving, etc.) rather than to underage drinking awareness in general.
  • Use a skilled facilitator to keep the conversation productive and focused on solutions rather than complaints about the difficulties of prevention.
  • For colleges and universities, the student life/residential/health center staff typically work with the president or student administration vice president to make sure on-campus Town Hall Meetings run smoothly.
  • Urge policymakers and members of the local business community to attend meetings and stay for the duration.
  • Ensure that attendees know the meeting is part of a much larger effort, such as state and federal underage drinking prevention initiatives.
  • Have a plan in place to conduct a meeting follow-up to keep the momentum going.
  • Take the time to listen to the community, because the people who attend these meetings are the ones who have something to say. When your community neighbors see you listening to their ideas and assembling them to form a viable underage drinking prevention plan, their excitement will lead to engagement and, ultimately, success.

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When you get to the second, or “Create Account,” step, the e-mail field is automatically populated with the e-mail address to which the invitation was sent. At this point, you may change the e-mail address to another address not in the system. You can also change your e-mail address after the registration process is completed by logging in and going to the “Edit My Profile” page.

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Passwords must contain at least one upper case letter, one lower case letter, one number, AND one of the following special characters: !@#$*()^~&;:=_

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Funds are limited, so requests are first come, first served. Stipend requests should be registered as early as possible. Stipend requests are typically not processed later than June 30.

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Although SAMHSA encourages most organizers to hold their events between March and May, Town Hall Meetings Hosts can conduct their events anytime of the year. Read the planning calendar with a list of national observances. Or consider holding an event to respond to a timely community need or issue.

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No, there is no set format for an event.  Events can be conducted in a physical location or via the Internet.  They can also take several approaches.  Sample ideas include a panel discussion, student presentation, roundtable, open-microphone community forum, or webinar.  For more ideas, read the Success Stories on the Town Hall Meetings website.  Although creativity is encouraged, SAMHSA expects Town Hall Meetings to:

  • Be open to the public;
  • Inform participants about the consequences of underage drinking and evidence-based measures to prevent it;
  • Encourage audience discussion of solutions to the problem;
  • Engage community members in pursuing prevention actions; and
  • Lead to results that can be measured and reported.

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SAMHSA will provide individual $500 planning stipends to a limited number of organizations that the agency invites to host a 2016 Town Hall Meeting. Invitations from SAMHSA are based on the recommendations of state and territory National Prevention Network representatives and other national partner organizations. However, without a stipend, anyone may hold a Town Hall Meeting by registering online and using the resources on the website.

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A stipend is issued as a check after all of the necessary paperwork is processed. The check will be sent to the participating organization through the U.S. Postal Service. Checks are void after 120 days, so an organization should cash the check as soon as possible after receipt.

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In the event that the primary contact is unavailable or cannot be reached at their registered e-mail address, a secondary contact provides an alternate way to maintain communications.

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The event recap provides a way for Town Hall Meeting hosts to share the results of their events with SAMHSA. All recaps are reviewed by the national initiative organizers. Some will be nominated for success stories. SAMHSA uses success stories as opportunities for event hosts to share lessons learned in using Town Hall Meetings to engage a community in prevention. Please take a few minutes to share the results of your event.

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Answer the questions provided, with an emphasis on how your community and its solution to underage drinking are unique. Add quotes from the audience as well as the organizers. Upload promotional flyers and photos that can illustrate your story. Be specific. Numbers provide clear evidence of what you accomplished through a Town Hall Meeting. Number of attendees is one indication of success, but numbers that demonstrate measurable progress in prevention are even more compelling.

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Contact us at info@stopalcoholabuse.net or 1-866-419-2514.

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