A coalition of community groups in Rockville Centre is set to receive a $124,999 federal grant to fight drug abuse among youths, Rep. Kathleen Rice announced Thursday.

"The most effective efforts to prevent alcohol and drug use among young people happen on the ground in our communities, and supporting those efforts is the best investment our government can make," Rice (D-Garden City) said in a news release.

The federal funding "will allow the Rockville Centre Coalition for Youth to continue building a strong grassroots movement that will empower kids with the knowledge and support they need to make smart, healthy choices," she said.

The grant came through the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy's Drug-Free Communities Support Program, to help local, community-based efforts to reduce youth substance use. It is a dollar-matching federal grant that a coalition spokeswoman said will be met by in-kind community service.

"What is so exciting about this recognition is that so many community groups have been working together . . . to eliminate the environmental causes that tempt our underage youth to use alcohol or drugs," said Jeanne Farnan Mulry, pro bono general counsel for the RVC Youth Council Inc., which filed for the grant on behalf of the coalition.

The coalition includes the council, the school district's Drug and Alcohol Task Force, the village police department, Confide Counseling, the parent-teacher associations, a local newspaper, and a host of religious, community and civic groups.

advertisement | advertise on newsday

"We structured our nonprofit so that our local teens have real authority and are the elected officers" of the council, Mulry said.

Two high school seniors, council co-presidents Alexandra Kosakoff and Juliana Shenker, will be the youth sector representatives on the coalition. "They will have a seat at the table with our other community leaders," Mulry said.

Rice, the two-term Nassau County District Attorney through last year, said she wants to help the coaltion "with their efforts and work together going forward."

Rockville Centre Mayor Francis X. Murray said: "The youth council is a wonderful organization here, and we hope the idea spreads throughout Nassau."