Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board offering grants of up to $50,000 for campaigns to discourage underage alcohol use

The state agency that regulates alcohol beverage sales seeks to discourage dangerous and underage alcohol use as part of its mission.

Shelves of merchandise at the Pennsylvania Wine and Liquor store in Seven Fields, Pa, are seen through the window

File photo: Shelves of merchandise at the Pennsylvania Wine and Liquor store in Seven Fields, Pa, are seen through the window Monday, April 20, 2020. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)

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In 2023, Urban Health Solutions used a $40,000, two-year grant from the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (PLCB) to create a marketing campaign to warn teenagers about the dangers of alcohol use.

“We hired an artist to draw a campaign to discourage underage alcohol drinking with the teenager’s input,” said Yvonne Jones, Urban Health chief executive officer, who is also a registered nurse. “It was pretty much designed by the kids.”

The campaign by the nonprofit created billboards, bought space on SEPTA vehicles and developed a social media campaign.

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Urban Health provides medical counseling and other services to underserved Philly neighborhoods. The teenagers were part of a summer program that introduced them to health care careers.

According to Jones, the group surveyed teenagers in the program about whether they had noticed problems with alcohol at home, among their peers or themselves. Those youth answered yes to all the questions, she said.

PLCB is the state agency that regulates the sale of alcoholic beverages and it provides millions of dollars in grants for alcohol education, said Shawn Kelly, an agency spokesperson.

“An important part of our mission is to reduce underage and dangerous alcohol drinking,” Kelly said. “These grants are designed to promote responsible drinking if you are of age, and no consumption if you are underage.”

You must be 21 in Pennsylvania to legally purchase or drink alcoholic beverages.

The grants are competitive and will be evaluated by the PLCB’s Bureau of Alcohol Education and will be distributed until all the funds are exhausted. They are limited to one per organization.

Last year, some of the other organizations that received grants from the PLCB included: Bucks County Drug and & Alcohol Commission; Carnegie Mellon University; Kutztown University and Temple University.

But the grants are also open to school districts, trade schools, municipalities or law enforcement agencies, along with for-profit companies.

Other examples of programs created with funds from the PLCB are a marketing campaign called “The Power of Parents,” designed by Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD),  and college alcohol assessment surveys, along with peer education and training funds.

In addition, police departments have used the grants for increasing patrols and creating alcohol education programs.

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Since 1999, when the grant program began, the PLCB has awarded $21.1 million.

Aside from the grants, the PCLB educates the public about underage and dangerous alcohol in several other ways, such as its Responsible Alcohol Management Program (RAMP), its award-winning alcohol prevention program known as Know When. Know How., which targets underaged drinking, and an annual alcohol conference.

According to Kelly, the conference explores best practices and the latest information about which techniques work well in a particular community. The PLCB also partners with schools, community groups, police and its licensees to prevent dangerous and underage alcohol use.

In the commonwealth, the PLCB regulates the distribution of alcoholic beverages, operates 600 wine and spirits stores and licenses 20,000 alcohol handlers, producers and retailers.

Since its inception, the PLCB has returned a total of $20.3 billion in taxes and store profits to the state’s General Fund, which finances schools, health and human services, law enforcement, public safety and other initiatives.

The PLCB seeks organizations to submit funding proposals for 2024-2026. The deadline to apply is 5 p.m., Friday, March 15. They pay a maximum of $25,000 a year over a two-year period.

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