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The History of Prevention Partnership

The Prevention Partnership grew from an interagency collaboration involving three Chicago

agencies - The Learning Network, Inc., Right Way Youth Center, and Person Education

Development Education (PEDE), an agency in St. Paul/Minneapolis.  In 1984, the directors of

these agencies formed The Partners in Prevention program, and in June 1987, incorporated as a 501 (c) (3) minority governed community-based prevention and health promotion agency.

Photo from The Austin Voice

Prevention Partnership's Founders

Al Orsello moved to Chicago after successfully founding PEDE, which was identified as a model program by the Minnesota Department of Human Services and an exemplary program by the U.S. Office of Education. The intention was to expand the services to a large urban city.  He met Lee Rusch, who at the time was Director of Prevention Services for Catholic Charities, Central States Institute. Al then heard Alderman Davis, the first Chairman for the City of Chicago Alcohol and Other Drug Committee on television.  He followed up with a phone call to Alderman Davis, who said, "If you want to do anything with prevention in the Austin neighborhood, you need to met Luther Syas, the founder of an alternative school in Austin." And the rest is history.

Accomplishments Throughout Prevention Partnership's History

Since 1987, Prevention Partnership has provided training and technical assistance to Chicago Public Schools and Cook County South Suburban Communities to address alcohol, tobacco and other drugs, HIV/AIDS and other social and health related problems. Kimberly Fornero, former Chief, Bureau of Community Prevention for Illinois Department of Human Services, summed up the effects of The Prevention Partnership, Inc. on these communities when she wrote, “The Prevention Partnership, Inc. has been a pioneer in the development, implementation and evaluation of services in our state, especially in our very high risk communities.”

From 1990-1995, approximately 25, community organizations requested training and technical assistance from Prevention Partnership, and both the City of Chicago and the MacArthur Foundation approved it as the fiscal agent for The Campaign for a Drug Free Westside.

From 1999-2002, Prevention Partnership’s HIV/AIDS and Substance Abuse Prevention for African American Youth Project (Cohort 1) was part of the Center for Substance Abuse Prevention Minority HIV/AIDS Prevention Initiative. The agency was one of 47 programs representing different parts of the United States. The executive summary reports from Prevention Partnership's local evaluator (Loyola University Chicago) stated “All three components of the program were well executed.” Site visit summaries from JSI Research Institute also indicated a high level of satisfaction and considered the program one of the most successful in the National Initiative.

In December 2002, as part of its recognition of World AIDS Day, the Chicago Department of Public Health awarded Prevention Partnership the “Award for Excellence for HIV/AIDS Prevention Services."

Starting in 2007, Prevention Partnership Inc. was one of eighteen grantees of the Illinois Department of Human Services Strategic Prevention Framework-State Incentive Grant (SPF/SIG), which focused on underage drinking and was funded by the Center for Substance Abuse Prevention.

In the 2008-2009 school year, Prevention Partnership's Peer Leadership Prevention Education and Parent Involvement Program was recommended by the Illinois Department of Human Services as the State’s Most Promising Prevention Program.

In 2015, Prevention Partnership started the Great Lakes Urban Initiative (GLUI). The GLUI's mission is to design, implement, evaluate, and replicate culturally intelligent, high-impact, cost-effective demonstration programs and activities, addressing specific behavioral and public health needs in communities of color within the Great Lakes Region. Initially supported by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), membership is composed of two representatives each from Chicago, Indianapolis, Detroit, Minneapolis, Columbus, and Milwaukee. This now volunteer membership is currently planning a Great Lakes Urban Initiative Heroin /Opioid Summit for the fall of 2021.

Prevention Partnership received a grant in 2018 from the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) to provide Beverage Alcohol Sellers and Servers Education and Training (BASSET).

In July 2019, State Representative La Shawn K. Ford, IL-8, requested that Prevention Partnership assume the role of coordinator of the West Side Heroin/Opioid Task Force. The Task Force, convened by Rep. Ford in 2016, brings together community-based agencies, governmental entities, health care providers and persons with lived experience to confront the epidemic of opioid overdoses and deaths in Chicago’s West Side communities. Since Prevention Partnership began the coordinating role, the Task Force membership has grown by 240 persons, a 70% increase. Task Force member groups have trained over 3,000 persons in Opioid Overdose Awareness and, spearheaded by the Task Force Outreach Team, have distributed over 6,000 doses of the life-saving Opioid antidote naloxone. The project has been refunded for FY21.

For more information on Prevention Partnership, visit


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