August, 2011

The Alliance Executive Director’s Year End Report

The Alliance has just completed its 8th year as an official 501 (c) 3 organization.  Over the course of time we have adapted to the ever changing economic times, the needs of our school community and the ongoing challenge of raising awareness of the safety concerns that impact our children. During the 2010-2011 school year, The Alliance has undergone numerous changes to assure its sustainability while raising to the challenge of providing the region and our members with vital programs and web site resources.  Among the most significant changes: we downsized our office and operating expenses, gave our web site an important “face lift”, made improvements to our educational video program, opened our 7th grade poster contest to include essay submissions and expanded our community programs to include cyber bullying and other related safety issue concerns. This past year, we honored our first “model member school” and presented an award to the Pine-Richland School District. Each year, as we continue to see an increase in school participation and  earnest attempt to reach out to parents that no school, no family and no community is safe or drug free, this award will recognize their supreme efforts. 

Alliance Board of Directors: 

During the 2010-2011 fiscal year, Dr. Al Wille, Tom Swan, Josie Morgano, and Sylvia Lynn terminated their board positions.  New members elected to our board are Elaine Surma, Michael Manko, Pat Mannarino and Leslie Quatrini.  

Board Officers:

Nicole Kurash, President

Elaine Surma, Vice President

Gail Korn, Treasurer

Leslie Quatrini, Secretary 

Operating Expenses: 

This past year, The Alliance downsized our office for a savings of $7,200/year. We eliminated our mobile broadband account for a savings of $750/year.  BX Video services were replaced with the Vimeo service to stream our videos at a savings of $2,400/year.  These changes will save us over $10,000/year.

 The Grable Foundation Grant that we had obtained paid for the employment of our Outreach Specialist, Kay Christ.  With the close out of that grant, Kay was released from our staff. Dr. Albert Wille, former Board President and a founder of The Alliance, has agreed to assist us with outreach work and web site maintenance on a part time basis. At the August Board of Directors meeting, I will make a recommendation to the Board to keep Dr. Wille on our payroll as a part time employee of our organization.  Salary to be determined based upon our current financial status.

 Alliance Web Site:

Upon the termination of consolidated communications serving as our web site administrator, we elected to hire Don Houk Consulting to update and maintain our site at a cost of $100/month.  With the web site improvements, we have been able to provide better and more efficient web services including the expansion of our newsletter and executive director’s blog. Navigating our site has become easier and more efficient.

According to Dr. Wille who tracks our web site statistics, as of August 8, nearly 10,000 unique visitors viewed pages on the Alliance website (page views are tracked).  In two months (June and July) over 200 visitors viewed the multimedia page, over 100 viewed the Executive Directors BLOG and over 100 viewed the Search for Services page.  Talking points for the videos are being downloaded to some extent.  This appears to mainly coincide with school or community program delivery.  For example, in May, 13 “talking points” documents were downloaded.  Web based statistics are also collected on how long visitors remain on the Alliance web site.  In June, 144 visitors stayed more than 15 minutes.  Of this group, 86 stayed an hour of more.

 Educational Video Program:

The combined efforts of both the Alliance and office of the PA Attorney General promoted the “video of the month” program throughout the school year. The majority of Alliance member schools and faith based institutions participated by advertizing and promoting each month’s featured video on their web sites. Videos featured each month included a synopsis on the video, age appropriateness for viewing, talking points for parents and a special monitored blog site for questions and comments.  The blog feature was not heavily used. 

Changes are in place for the 2011-2012 school year.  For the coming school year, videos will not be individually posted on a monthly basis.  Instead, the community will be encouraged to view any and all of the videos at any time of their choosing.  Plans are also being made to include 2 new videos to the library: a production on “Heroin” developed by the Allegheny-Kiski Health Foundation and “Prescription Drug Abuse” by the office of the PA Attorney General.


The Alliance Against Drugs & the Attorney General’s Office

Video Educational Series 

“Breaking the Code of Silence”

Produced by Michael Bartley for The Alliance, this video is suitable for middle and high school students and parents. Community leaders, parents, and teens describe the current status of the drug culture with emphasis on responsible reporting.


Produced by Michael Bartley for The Alliance, this video is suitable for parents/guardian viewing.

“Deception” details the extent to which teens will go to support their addiction and hide it from parents; provides suggestions for parents on effective vigilance and intervention and addresses issues of deceit, denial and enabling. 


Produced by Michael Bartley for The Alliance, this video is suitable for 5th grade through high school students and their parents.  “Listen” details the traumatic effects of drug use and overdose as seen through the eyes of mothers who suffered the loss of their children, and  encourages parents/guardians and community members to address the real dangers and threats of drugs in our region. 

“Operation Safe Surf”

Produced by the office of the Pennsylvania Attorney General, this video is suitable for parent/guardian viewing.  Provides detailed explanations on how sexual predators target and gain access to minors; also provides suggestions for parents on how to better protect their children. 

“Signs of Trouble”

Produced by Michael Bartley for The Alliance, this video is intended for parent/guardian viewing (not children).  Specific description and demonstration of materials used to contain and use drugs; provides parents with knowledge about where and how to look for signs of usage. 

“Sticks and Stones: Cyberbullying”

Produced by the office of the Pennsylvania Attorney General, this video is suitable for middle and high school students and parents.  Addresses the realities of cyber-bullying and provides suggestions and resources on how to effectively protect students from being bullied. 

“Teen’s Talking: Sexting, Drinking, Drugs”

Produced by Michael Bartley for The Alliance, this video is suitable for middle and high school students and parents.  Local professional experts and students 8th through 10th grade discuss the safety concerns of sexting, drinking and drugs.  

 “Truth & Choices: Drug & Alcohol Abuse”

Produced by the office of the Pennsylvania Attorney General, this video is suitable for middle and high school students and parents.  Shane is the student who shares his story about drug addiction along with its effects through the views of his family, law enforcement and medical professionals. 

 “What Help Looks Like”

Produced by Michael Bartley for The Alliance, this video is suitable for parents/guardian viewing.  “What Help Looks Like” provides information from multiple area agencies who can help.


Alliance School and Faith Based Insitutions Membership Roster 2011-2012 

Ambridge School District                       Northgate School District                       St. Joseph High School

Avonworth School District                     Pine-Richland School District                St. Sebastians Parochial School

Beattie Technical School                        Quaker Valley School District               Sewickley Academy

Carlynton School District                        Shaler Area School District                   

Cornell School District                            South Fayette School District                Calvin Presbyterian Church

Cornell School District                            Bishop Canevin High School                  Fountain Park Church

Fox Chapel Area School District            Central Catholic High School                  Memorial Park Church

Mars Area School District                      North Catholic High School                    Northway Christian Community 

Moon Area School District                     Quigley Catholic High School                 Sts John and Paul Parish

Morth Allegheny School District             Serra Catholic High School                    Saint John Neumann Parish

North Hills School District                       St. Alexis Parochial School                    Victory Family Church


Alliance Programs, Presentations and Special Events 2010-2011 

September, 2010:

North Hills School District: Parent/Student Program

Carlynton School District: Open House Presentation

Alliance Member Administrative Training Luncheon

Alliance Resource Fair and General Meeting

Beaver Valley IU Meeting Presentation


October, 2010:

West Mifflin School District: Parent/Student Program

Serra Catholic High School: Student Program

Ambridge School District: Parent/Student Program


 November, 2010:

St John Neumann Parish: Parent/Student Program

Shaler Area School District: Parent/Student Program


February, 2011:

Quaker Valley School District: Parent Program

Northgate School District Board Presentation

North Allegheny Advisory Council Meeting Presentation


March, 2011:

Memorial Park Church: Parent Program

Quaker Valley School District: Counselor In-Service Presentation

Mars Area School District: Parent/Student Program

Fountain Park Church: Parent/Student Program

Pine-Richland Parent/Student Program

Parkway West Superintendents Consortium Meeting Presentation

Lutheran Cable Network Program Taping for UTube Airing


April, 2011:

North Allegheny Ingomar  Middle School: Parent/Student Program

St Sebastians Parochial School: Parent/Student Program

Ambridge School District: Town Hall Meeting

North Catholic High School: Parent/Student Program

Alliance Student Leadership Workshop: 8th – 11th grade


May, 2011:

USA Football Clinic Presentation, Heinz Field


June, 2011:

Alliance Award Luncheon


Student Leadership Workshop 8th – 11th Grade 

On April 7th, 125 students and their sponsors from 17 member schools participated in a leadership workshop held at the Chadwick in Wexford.  The day’s activities began with a presentation on resiliency skills for adolescents delivered by Dr. Mark Lepore from Clarion University.  Students were then invited to participate in story boarding issues that impact their lives for use in creating group posters.  The theme for this event corresponded with the poster contest held for 7th grade.  Student responses were collected by Special Agent Elaine Surma (PA Attorney General’s office).  This data was sorted and will be used for future funding opportunities.


7th Grade Poster Contest & Award Luncheon 

The theme for this year’s poster contest was: “Welcome to My World: What Adults Need to Know About Drugs, Bullying and the Code of Silence”. 

* 19 member schools participated

* nearly 6,000 posters were created

* students submitted their posters in art form or composed a short essay, poem or lyrics to a song or rap

* 100 grand finalists, with the top 5 entries from each school, were submitted to The Alliance for an invitation to the annual     

  award luncheon held in early June

* The Alliance Board of Directors judged the entries and selected 10 grand winners who were recognized at the luncheon. 

* The 5 grand winners in the art category: North Hills Junior High School: 1st place

                                                                           Ingomar Middle School: 1st place

                                                                           Carson Middle School: 2nd place

                                                                           Pine-Richland Middle School: 2nd place

                                                                      Marshall Middle School: 2nd place

* The 5 grand winners in the composition category:  Quaker Valley Middle School: 1st place

                                                                                              Mars Middle School: 2nd place

                                                                                              South Fayette: 3rd place

                                                                                              Seneca Valley Middle School: 3rd place

                                                                                              Mars Middle School: 3rd place


* the Honorary Chairperson for the award luncheon was Phil Bourque from the Pittsburgh Penquins

* on June 4th, 250 guests attended the award luncheon that was sponsored by the Allegheny County District Attorney’s office


Return of the Auto Dealer’s Campaign Drive 

With the assistance from Robert Wright, the local auto dealers held a campaign drive for The Alliance throughout the month of May, 2011.  For every new or used vehicle that was purchased, the dealers donated $9 to the Alliance.  This was the 4th year the dealers undertook this initiative.  I have included the history of this very special campaign:

In April 2006 Dealers raised $15,092

In April 2007 Dealers raised $19,009

In April 2008 Dealers raised $24,500


During the May 2011 campaign the local auto dealers raised a grand total of $28,627.  A check presentation was made during the June award luncheon and each of the participating dealers was recognized and thanked for their efforts.

The Dealers that participated were:       Baierl Automotive

                                                                       Billco Motors


                                                                       Day Automotive

                                                                       West Hills Nissan

                                                                       Shults Ford

                                                                       Wright Automotive


Funding: Grants, Donatons and Community Support 

The Alliance depends on the continued support we receive from our foundation schools (the northern area consortium), our member at large school districts and private schools and churches. The annual funding we receive from this member group is detrimental to sustain our coalition and provide ongoing programs and services.  In addition to sustaining our community programs, these funds are vital for the management of our web site which is the foundation for the resource network we provide. Each of our member schools and churches receive a recap of the programs they requested and used during the school year along with a check list of services they wish to use for the upcoming year. We work very diligently to make sure we honor all member requests and make every attempt to remind them of important programs that are offered. Although we are not looking for further expansion at this time (for full memberships), we are and we will continue to encourage both the school and faith based community to join for a nominal cost  our educational video program.  Individual membership remains free and we will continue to encourage the community at large to become Alliance members. 

The Grable Foundaton Grant that we received for a period of 2 years has come to a conclusion.  The funding we received from that grant enabled us to hire a part time outreach specialist.  With the lapse of those funds it became necessary for us to eliminate the position.  We are fortunate however to have obtained the part time services of Dr. Al Wille at a nominal cost. Dr Wille will assist me with managing our web site, composing newsletters that will continue to provide updates on current safety concerns and assisting with community programs we will provide throughout the school year. 

The Alliance is extremely thankful for the major funding received from the Allegheny County District Attorney’s office.  This year, in addition to the DA’s office sponsoring our award luncheon, we have also received a donation of $20,000 from Mr. Stephen Zappala.  Mr. Zappala has always been a very strong supporter of our efforts and needless to say this Alliance could not offer all the services we currently provide without him and the ongoing support from his office staff:  Deputy Director Tom Swan and Public Relations Coordinator Michael Manko. 

This past year, we received a $6,000 grant from the office of the Pennsylvania Attorney General.  Those funds were used for our student leadership workshop, our web site upgrade and the kick off of our 2010 fall general meeting. We have written another grant with this office for the upcoming school year and with those funds (if we obtain them), will schedule special training programs for our faith based leaders, youth counselors, school nurses and youth sport coaches. 

Another very significant Alliance contributor is the Gateway Rehabilitation Center.  In addition to their financial assistance with programs, they also offer special support and resources provided by Dr. Neil Capretto, Medical Director and Nicole Kurash, Adolescent Program Supervisor. 

Other important community members that support our Alliance efforts include; Don Houk Consulting who manages our web site, Alan Freed Photography who volunteers his time every year to capture our poster winners, Bob Wright  who assists with organizing the local auto dealers for a spring campaign drive, the KDKA radio network for their assistance with broadcasting timely messages concerning the youth and drug culture and the many community members that visit our web site, use our resources, view our videos and continue to hold dialog with their children concerning the serious consequences of drug use. If we continue to work as one, we can move mountains.


The Year Ahead: 2011-2012 

The Alliance Board of Directors has approved the change of our corporate name.  Henceforth, we will officially be called:

The Pennsylvania Alliance For Safe and Drug Free Children

We will still use our various alias (the alliance, the alliance against drugs) but for grant writing purposes, we felt it timely to broaden our name to include the state from which we serve. By inclusion of the word “safe” it suggests that the Alliance, in addition to raising awareness of drug use, prevention and addiction, must also address other safety concerns that impact our youth. We began to offer programs during the later part of last school year regarding cyberbullying issues. They  were well received.  We will continue to offer these programs during the upcoming school year. 

In the upcoming months, the Alliance will be working with the KDKA network  and Shelley Duffy to create and broadcast public service announcements.  The topics will include gift card dangers, synthetic marijuana, why it is important to talk with your child prior to leaving elementary school, prescription drug abuse and gold exchange centers.  We will also be taping a radio program with Shelley that will air in October. Dr. Neil Capretto will assist us with that program. 

In late October we will be offering a Drug Impairment Training for school nurses, guidance counselors and other community administrators.  This program will be co sponsored by UMPC Healthcare and Allegheny-Kiski Health Foundation.  Act 48 credits will be provided. 

Other programs being scheduled for this coming year include:

* 3 town hall meetings to be held at various faith based locations

* general meeting to kick off the newest educational video on prescription drug abuse

* student leadership workshop that will be expanded to include 8th through 12th grade students

* training for youth leaders and ministers

*training for youth sports coaches

* 7th grade poster contest and award luncheon



The Alliance For Safe and Drug Free Children


Calendar and Resource Guide 


Artwork, poems and lyrics from last spring’s 7th grade poster contest are featured along with “tips” on how to use the Alliance website resources.  Just send with your name and address to [email protected] and we will send a calendar to you. Enclosed will be a stamped and pre-addressed envelope to the Alliance for any donation you can give to help keep our children safe and drug free.

 Checks can be made out to “The Alliance” and sent to our office address:

Suite 2300 Building #2

2607 Nicholson Road

Sewickley, PA  1514