A Year of Resilience: The Work of 2020 with National Harm Reduction Coalition

The harm reduction community faced deep loss and pain together in 2020. At the same time, the ways we continued to care and show up for each other have shown our strength and resilience. 

This has been a transformative year of growth and overcoming for NHRC. Thank you for your support and solidarity, which has made so much visionary work possible even in the face of adversity. 

Innovative and Critical Resources for People Who Use Drugs and Service Providers

  • Through our new Harm Reduction Toolkit: Pregnancy and Substance Use, pregnant and parenting people who use drugs, their loved ones, and their service providers can find practical information about navigating care. Pregnant people and their families can use this information to understand their rights, access services, and find high-quality, evidence-based care. 
  • We launched the Naloxone Finder in 2020 to support people who use drugs in accessing naloxone in their community. The Naloxone Finder was a multi-year, multi-organization project that many community members contributed to. Each program on the map has been vetted to ensure that naloxone is free and for people who use drugs. 
  • Looking forward to our 2022 conference, we remain committed to developing relationships with harm reduction partners in Puerto Rico by centering local needs and building organizing momentum for what lies ahead. In the meantime, we launched #HarmRedNow with a virtual opening plenary and sessions on pregnancy and substance use, the future of harm reduction, harm reduction as a spiritual practice, and more. Stay tuned on social media and follow the hashtag #HarmRedNow. 
  • Lighthouse Learning Collective emerged in 2020 to create safer spaces with LGB TGNC+ people in New York. Lighthouse is bringing together harm reduction groups and organizations that serve the LGB TGNC+ community to reimagine what safety and care can look like for queer and trans folks who use drugs. Connect with the Collective through bi-monthly meetings or watch their videos on Instagram.
  • Faith in Harm Reduction launched its Spirit of Harm Reduction Toolkit in November! The toolkit was co-created by FIHR leadership collective and staff, harm reduction leaders, and other movement based allies. In the Spirit of Harm Reduction Toolkit, you can explore intersections between faith and harm reduction, spiritual and ritual resources for harm reductionists and accomplices, and concrete ways for faith communities to embody radical hospitality with people who use drugs and people who do sex work. 

Photo ID: DID YOU KNOW? NHRC Medical Director Dr. Kimberly Sue launched a podcast series called The Gold Standard this year, with guests from programs across the country to highlight the importance of low-barrier access to medications for opioid use.

Supporting Environments Where Harm Reduction Programs Can Thrive 

  • We piloted the COHRT (Creating Opportunities for Harm Reduction Training) program to support direct services workers from supportive housing, behavioral health, and shelter-in-place programs doing harm reduction work in the pandemic. Our program included lessons on harm reduction foundations, conflict management, and strategies for self-care in a virtual discussion-based environment.
  • We convened the Executive Director Mentorship and Mutual Aid Support Group to bring together harm reduction leaders facing new challenges during COVID. Our community leaders come together to troubleshoot questions, strategize together, and support each other through collective care.
  • HepConnect leadership partnered with Duke School of Medicine, NC Dept of Health, Duke School of Nonprofit Management to create a workforce development opportunity for SSP leaders in the 5 project states (TN, KY, NC, WV, IN). Leaders will attend an 8 Day Intensive Program and receive nonprofit management certification.
  • The California statewide team collaborated with CA Bridge project to train substance use navigators and hospital champions at 250 hospitals throughout the state aimed at providing low threshold buprenorphine, and supported development of protocols to integrate low barrier naloxone access into their model of care at every hospital.

Photo ID: DID YOU KNOW? More than 3,800 people were trained on harm reduction principles, engaging people who use drugs, and overdose prevention through our online learning lab in 2020.

Direct Service and Direct Action with The DOPE Project 

  • Centering the urgent needs of people who use drugs facing increased vulnerability to overdose due to isolation and other COVID-related factors, our DOPE Project team mobilized a rapid response to equip all 27 San Francisco COVID shelter-in-place sites with more than 150 wall-mounted naloxone stations and trained hundreds of staff with overdose prevention and harm reduction training. 
  • The DOPE Team launched a new SRO Project as an overdose prevention initiative for residents and staff in supportive housing in San Francisco in partnership with SFDPH and CADPH. Lifelong Tenderloin community member and worker Porsha Dixson joined DOPE to coordinate the project, and even through the challenges of the pandemic, the team was able to start intensive, site-specific work, including staff and resident training.

Photo ID: DID YOU KNOW? People who use drugs and their communities have successfully reversed an estimated 3,000+ overdoses in the San Francisco area with DOPE Project naloxone in 2020.

Historic Harm Reduction Grantmaking and Resource Generation

  • We successfully launched the California Harm Reduction Initiative (CHRI), providing $12.2 million for 37 California Syringe Services Programs. CHRI is truly historic funding — both as the largest government investment in syringe services and as the first staffing support for harm reduction programs in the state in 10 years.
  • HepConnect made critical rapid response grants during COVID, demonstrating flexibility and accountability to our partners and working with grantees across Tennessee, Kentucky, North Carolina, West Virginia, and Indiana to adapt in this difficult time.
  • For #GivingTuesday, our development team raised awareness and critical funding for BIPOC harm reduction organizations while practicing what collective liberation looks like. Together, we raised more than $4,500 for Gwayakobimaadiziwin Bad River Needle Exchange, WeCareTN, Black Sex Worker Collective, and Oasis de Esperanza. We shared some real talk about fundraising with these frontline harm reduction programs on Facebook Live and you can catch the recording here.

Photo ID: DID YOU KNOW? We hosted the first ever all-grantee convening this year in Raleigh, North Carolina to build shared resources, knowledge, and community among organizations doing harm reduction work in the five HepConnect states.

Emerging as the National Harm Reduction Coalition 

  • Over the course of 25 years, we have evolved into the National Harm Reduction Coalition with a whole new look. Our website remains a valuable resource to people who use drugs and their loved ones, harm reduction programs, public health departments, health care workers, researchers, students, and drug treatment providers across the country.
  • We expanded our broader national work in 2020 and pivoted many of our events and trainings to an online format, providing timely services in over 25 states. Additionally, NHRC was added to the Center for Disease Control’s National Harm Reduction Technical Assistance and Syringe Services Program as a lead service provider, supporting the expansion of harm reduction and syringe access programming across the US through October 2022.

Photo ID: DID YOU KNOW? NHRC is growing! By early next year, we will have more than 50 staff members distributed across the U.S. Want to join our team? Check out our open positions.















We’re grateful 2020 is coming to a close, and we wouldn’t have accomplished all that we did without your help. There’s still plenty of time to make a tax-deductible donation to the National Harm Reduction Coalition. Any donation we receive online before 11:59 pm on December 31st is eligible for a 2020 tax-deduction.

Make a tax-deductible donation online

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Section 2204 of the CARES Act allows nonprofit donors to deduct cash donations up to $300 without needing to itemize deductions for the 2020 tax year. A donation this year can help reduce your taxable income! To send a donation by mail, please make checks payable to “National Harm Reduction Coalition” and send to:

National Harm Reduction Coalition

243 5th Ave, Box 529

New York, NY 10016