Burlington, WA –

On Monday, January 31, the Burlington Healthy Community Coalition (BHCC) was one of 178 community coalitions honored during a graduation ceremony at CADCA’s (Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America) 32nd Annual National Leadership Forum, just outside of Washington, D.C. The coalitions received a graduation certificate for completing CADCA’s National Coalition Academy, a rigorous training program designed to increase the effectiveness of community substance use and misuse prevention leaders. Jenny Cole of the Burlington Public Library and President of the BHCC completed the academy along with Liz Wilhelm who is the BHCC coordinator out of United General District 304.

“Initially it really helped start conversations and got us thinking at a deeper level,” said Cole, who is new to coalition work. Innovations implemented since completing the academy have opened doors to new partnerships, she said. 

For example, the coalition has focused on highlighting key information and restructuring their meetings to engage more community partners, like health care providers, school districts, parents, business owners, faith leaders, and others that work on substance use prevention. Cole says that each partner has more opportunities to share their work so members can see the connections and overlap in what they are doing for youth prevention.

Wilhelm has taken up the coordinator role since February 2021 when BHCC was awarded a federal Drug-Free Communities Grant. “Now we just have a whole new lease on what the coalition can do,” says Cole.

CADCA’s National Coalition Academy (NCA) is a comprehensive, year-long training program developed by CADCA’s National Coalition Institute. The NCA incorporates three, week-long classroom sessions, a web-based distance learning component, an online workstation where participants network and share planning products and free ongoing coalition development technical assistance. To graduate, coalitions must complete a rigorous curriculum. They must participate in all components of the NCA and complete five essential planning products that serve as the foundation of their comprehensive plan for community change.

The mission of the Burlington Healthy Community Coalition is to support and promote healthy environments and opportunities for all youth to gain skills and receive positive recognition in order to prevent and reduce youth substance use. The BHCC is a partnership of schools, families, and community members representing the diversity of the broader Burlington area.


The mission of CADCA (Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America) is to strengthen the capacity of community coalitions to create and maintain safe, healthy and drug-free communities globally. This is accomplished by providing coalition development assistance and training, public policy advocacy, special events, media strategies and marketing programs.