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CASE STUDY: Building Mutually Beneficial Partnerships With Universities—A Focus on the Martinsburg, West Virginia, Initiative

NCJ Number
Date Published
May 2024
5 pages

This brief published by the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) Comprehensive Opioid, Stimulant, and Substance Use Program (COSSUP) highlights the Martinsburg, West Virginia, Initiative (TMI) at Shepherd University.


This publication by the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) Comprehensive Opioid, Stimulant, and Substance Use Program (COSSUP) provides a case study on building relationships with universities. The Martinsburg, West Virginia, Initiative (TMI) has engaged Shepherd University in efforts to support evaluation and workforce development. TMI has trained more than 15 social work interns through this partnership and has responded to more than 433 referrals for students and families. TMI is a community-based effort to break the cycle of substance use disorder (SUD) and build strong families. The initiative is based on research linking adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) with a range of negative outcomes during adulthood, such as reduced employment rates, increased risk of chronic diseases, and increased risk of mental health problems. Shepherd University provides TMI with support using data analytics and evaluation measures to strengthen implementation and sustainability. The TMI partnerships are strengthened through regular collaborative meetings to provide opportunities for different sectors to share updates and resources with each other. The initiative offers programming in schools and through community partners, along with a number of other support services. TMI utilizes social workers to deliver many of its services because they are uniquely positioned to provide trauma-informed care while promoting social change and development. Indeed, licensed social workers play key roles in the various services that TMI supports. Bringing Shepherd University into the initiative as a major partner has enabled both TMI and the university to expand their work in Martinsburg and serves as an example to other communities that are considering partnerships with higher education to meet the diverse needs of youth and families in addressing SUDs.

Date Published: May 1, 2024