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Our History


  • United Way of Mat-Su identifies substance abuse as critical issue to address in order to build a healthier community. Substance abuse 3 out of top 10 issues in 2002 & 2005 community health assessments.

  • December, Substance Abuse Summit held with key and local stakeholders.

  • United Way of Mat-Su Board of Directors pass resolution to commit to financial and staff resources to substance abuse initiative for minimum of 10 years.


  • March, Community Anti-Drug Coalition formalized. Thirty-five stakeholder groups from community (multiple sectors) sign memorandum of agreement at joint chamber of commerce meeting.

  • Coalition sets goal to create coordinated community response with a commitment to have a data driven purpose.

  • Data committee formed to research existing data and identify gaps. Receives grant from Mat-Su Health Foundation (MSHF) for data project.

  • December, Request for Proposal (RFP) issued to conduct 5-year retrospective study of existing data on Mat-Su, work with providers to extract meaningful data and conduct survey in schools; no Youth Risk Behavior Survey(YRBS) data available.

  • Research on successful coalitions; Identifies Community Anti-Drug Abuse Coalitions of America (CADCA) and The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA) as resource.

  • Coalition adopts Strategic Prevention Framework (SPF).


  • March, Data Project awarded to CODI (Co-occurring Disorders Institute)

  • Borrows California Healthy Kids Survey, adapts for Alaska and surveys over 60% of 7th, 9thand 11th graders in public, private and homeschool settings.

  • Survey includes misery index and assets with focus on school, home and community connectedness.

  • Data and Steering Committee continues to meet monthly to stay involved in Data Project.

  • April, Hosted a Town Hall Meeting on underage drinking.

  • Coalition and Mat-Su Health Foundation sponsor local documentary about meth addiction, “Ice Crystals.”


  • Coalition receives funding from Rasmuson Foundation and MSHF to hire Community Impact Coordinator to coordinate Coalition.

  • April, 2008 Data Report becomes available in Final Report format for Coalition. Steering Committee forms summary of report. Meetings held to re-engage community

  • April 21-June 18, seven presentations given for stakeholder groups consisting of treatment providers, healthcare, education (principals, school nurses, and student governments), law enforcement and faith-based organizations with over 120 participants. These meetings help determine and develop potential recommendations, conclusions and priorities for presentation to Steering Committee for adoption and are summarized in the Data Report Summary.

  • May, Coalition signs to support the University of Nevada’s (Reno) Center for the Application of Substance Abuse Technologies (CASAT) in application for National Institute on Drug Abuse’s (NIDA) “Science Education Drug Abuse Partnership Award.” Should award be granted, Coalition will act as a control group in 5-year study of coalitions and their impact on substance abuse.

  • August, 2008 Data Report and Summary available online @

  • August, 4-hour prevention primer presented by the Department of Health and Social Services. Coalition engages community by hosting prevention trainings.

  • Community Anti-Drug Abuse Coalitions of America (CADCA) training taking place 2-days prior to Coalition Strategic Planning. CADCA is committed, by charter, to provide this service to every state but had yet to be asked to provide service in AK. CADCA representatives fly to AK at their cost to facilitate training. Coalition instrumental in securing/planning CADCA statewide training for AK, benefits over 300 Alaskans and their communities.

  • Coalition contracts with CADCA to coordinate late September community-wide strategic planning session focusing on problem solving and creating environmental strategies addressing problems Mat-Su communities are facing and build protective factors.

  • Changes name to Mat-Su Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition (MSAPC) and developed logo.

  • Developed policies and procedures.


  • November, Coalition hosts first teleconference consisting of coalition representatives across Alaska.

  • “Alaska Wellness Coalition” formed, will meet quarterly, google list serve created for communications.

  • Coalition awarded Drug Free Communities (DFC) grant.

  • January, Coalition Facebook page created (Find us on FB at Thrive Mat-Su).

  • Coalition (5 adults and 5 youth) invited to Juneau to present data project to use and HSGovernor Parnell, House and HSS Committee.

  • Coalition partners with Mat-Su Borough for Prescription Drug Take Back days.

  • Youth-led 3 day event; coordinated events include-

  • National Guard obstacle course.

  • Leadership Development.

  • 56 youth participants.

  • March, Action Planning Retreat.

  • Coalition sends youth to Lead-On Conference.

  • June 26, Youth led event, Community BBQ at Wonderland Park; coordinated events include-

  • National Guard obstacle course.

  • Live music.

  • Personal testimonies.

  • Over 300 youth attended.

  • Alaska Wellness Coalition identifies statewide media project to reduce underage drinking.


  • Matanuska-Susitna Borough School District (MSBSD) participates fully in YRBS; commits to ongoing surveys.

  • Coalition attends 3 week National Coalition Academy.

  • Coalition drafts legislation for ban on K2 Spice.

  • Legislature passes ban on K2 Spice.

  • Sponsors Tobacco Awareness Program (TAP) and Tobacco Education Group (TEG) programs for MSBSD.

  • Sponsors Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) workshops.

  • Sponsors Mat-Su youth to attend Camp Hope.

  • Sponsors youth to attend Alaska Teen Media Institute to produce a Feed the Seed video-commercial aired on 10 different networks!

  • Coalition attends Positive Community Norms (PCN) training.

  • Sponsors youth-led You Choose Project; over 100 youth volunteer and over 500 attend.


  • March 13th, Town Hall meeting held.

  • Discussed strategies, planning and updates to the Action Plan for moving into the upcoming year.

  • Plan to include Positive Community Norms (PCN) and a spirit, science, action model within the appropriate areas.

  • Members attend training, gain new knowledge.

  • Block Parties-neighborhood substance free parties used for multi-generational outreach to help build connectedness and support.

  • Partner with Anchorage Youth Development Coalition to offer several trainings to assist youth serving organizations to build strengths and best practices in several topic areas. Trainings continued throughout the year.

  • Coalition receives Department of Behavioral Health (DBH) Prevention and Early Intervention Grant.

  • Coalition named changed to THRIVE Mat-Su.


  • Elizabeth Ripley passes the Torch of Leadership to Philip Licht after serving as chair for 6 years. Thank you, Elizabeth Ripley!

  • THRIVE sponsors 18 school district nurses and counselors for Mental Health and 1st Aid Training.

  • THRIVE sponsors Dr. Victor DeNoble to speak at Mat-Su high schools. Dr. DeNoble gives an insider’s view into the tobacco industry during talk.

  • THRIVE sponsors Positive Community Norms (PCN) training, Mat-Su Youth Courts conference and 4 Neighborhood Night out Block Parties (to build connectivity between youth and adults).

  • Thrive contracts with McDowell Group for evaluation services for the 2013 Youth Risk Behaviors Survey (YRBS).

  • Purchases the domain

  • Partners with the State of Alaska Department of Behavioral Health (DBH) for statewide Positive Community Norms (PCN) training held in Anchorage.

  • Alaska Wellness Coalition finalizes scope of work for statewide media campaign to reduce underage drinking.


  • January, Thrive Mat-Su successfully adds questions surrounding the youth drinking perception and campaign awareness (have you seen an ad on TV about underage drinking?) for the Positive Community Norms (PCN) Campaign to the 2014 School Climate and Connectedness Survey (SCCS).

  • February, holds Strategic Planning Sessions; Gant Chart and Annual Plan developed.

  • Thrive sponsors 25 individuals to attend various trainings such Positive Community Norms, Children of Incarcerated Parents and Mental Health First Aid.

  • April, Thrive Mat-Su provides letters of resolution to the Palmer and Wasilla City Councils in support of the passage of spice ordinances.

  • April, Thrive conducts key informant interviews.

  • Thrive staff begins coordinating The Mat-Su ACEs (Adverse Childhood Experiences) Speakers Bureau for the Mat-Su Valley.

  • Thrive develops Coalition By-Laws.

  • October, Thrive Mat-Su supports Mat-Su Youth-led Town Hall. Approximately 50 attend Town Hall to discuss underage drinking, ACEs and wellness.

  • October, Partners with United Way of Mat-Su, Mat-Su Health Foundation and the Mat-Su School District to sponsor ACEs (Adverse Childhood Experiences) Mat-Su Summit. One hundred people, from all sectors, attend event.

  • October-December, conducted Community Readiness Assessment.

  • November, worked with Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) to add questions about prescription drug use for the 2015 YRBS.


  • Thrive Mat-Su awarded the Alaska Community Service Award for Health by the Alaska Public Health Association.

  • Coalition members attend CADCA Leadership Forum in D.C. Activities include workshops and Capitol Hill meetings with Sen Murkowski, Sen. Sullivan and Congressman Young’s office to advocate and inform legislators about successes and areas of concern for the Mat-Su Valley.

  • Community meetings held in Palmer, Talkeetna and Wasilla to talk about Thrive, Alaska State Trooper Amy Nelson presented information about drugs and local resources (services, etc.) given to attendees.

  • Coalition members meet with community leaders about the upcoming statewide media campaign on underage drinking, the coalition and community substance abuse resources.

  • Data and Evaluation Committee updated Data Indicators and Intermediate Variables

  • Youth Assets Committee conducted Youth Survey; 112 youth provided feedback on community resources, perceptions, communications channels, barriers to participating in youth activities and possible community solutions.

  • Thrive sponsored members to attend the Effects of Trauma & Mental Health Conference

  • Youth Resource List developed by youth

  • Thrive completed community Strategy Mapping and Portfolio including the continuum of care, evidenced based strategies, gap analysis, policy and all levels of the social ecology.

  • Thrive supported Title IV statute revisions (laws that govern alcohol sales and enforcement), Smokefree ordinances, and made recommendations for marijuana regulations.

  • April- Thrive sponsored members to attend Early Childhood Mental Health Institute.

  • April- Thrive sponsored youth leadership events at Burchell HS and Houston HS.

  • April- Be [You] media campaign launched; Positive Community Norms Media Campaign to reduce underage drinking; 73% of Mat-Su Teens Choose Not to Drink.

  • May-Thrive sponsored members to attend the Alaska Tobacco Control Alliance Summit

  • “Start the Conversation” folders distributed with parent resources for building stronger families written by youth along with “Conversation Jars.”

  • May- Thrive presented to the Advisory Board on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse (ABADA)

  • May- Training on “How to Prepare for Policy, System and Environmental Change in Your Community”

  • June- Thrive sponsored Conversations with Jane Stevens (Founder of ACEsTOOHigh and ACEsConnection); training on best practices from each sector on trauma-informed practices and building hope and resilience in our community.

  • June- United Way of Mat-Su and Thrive hosted booth at Colony Days; Information disseminated about Coalition, strategies, conversation starters, ACEs, services available, resource guides and Be [You] materials and engagement.

  • June-October- Thrive sponsored Neighborhood Block Parties to build neighborhood support, connectivity, activism and healthy conditions.

  • August- Thrive Team Building & Member Celebration event

  • September- Thrive hosted Sue Delucchi Taming the Dragons Seminar, a multi-disciplinary intervention program to help young children ages 0-12 cope after traumatic events.

  • September- Thrive sponsored Legislative Lunch & Learn; presentation on current data, underlying needs and conditions to be addressed, community resources and services available, positive community norms and prevention strategies shared.

  • October-December- Thrive Committees reviewed Annual Plan and developed Strategic Plan and a Work Plan for 2016


  • Jan-Aug, Thrive provides scholarships for 57 for coalition members to attend trainings/conferences such as Mental Health First Aid for Youth, Early Childhood Mental Health and Child and Child, Adolescent, Family Behavioral Health conferences, Wounded Student Conference, McShinn Foundation and more

  • Jan-Additional done work surrounding our strategy plan

  • March-October, over 10 presentations to community and youth groups such as Wasilla Sunrise Rotary, Advisory Board on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse, Alaska Association of Student Governments and Mat-Su Student Advisory Board

  • March-October, Thrive attends several community fairs including the Mat-Su Emergency Preparedness Expo, Charter College Health, Wellness, & Safety Fair and the Mat-Su College Don’t Go it Alone event.

  • April- Youth led Town Hall/ Resource Fair at Wasilla High School

  • July- Partnership for Success grant awarded to Thrive Mat-Su ($200,00)

  • Sept- Drug Free Communities grant awarded to Thrive Mat-Su ($625,00 dispersed over 5 years)

  • Oct- Community Readiness Assessment survey surrounding prescription opioid misuse and heroin use distributed to community

  • November- Action Steps completed for DBH grant, added questions to YRBS and begin analyzing community readiness surveys

  • Dec- Coalition staff attend Drug Free Communities grantee training in Washington, D.C.

  • Dec- Thrive Mat-Su hosts ‘Merry Movies at the Moose’ a family friendly, substance free event for Mat-Su community memebrs