To mobilize community-wide efforts to reduce and/or prevent the use of alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs among youth through education, youth and parental engagement, and policy change.


A community where all youth are valued, celebrated, and empowered for living healthy, substance-abuse free lives.


In 2010, a small group of concerned parents, educators, and community leaders came together to address the issue of bullying in our schools. A grass-roots coalition was formed to encourage youth to Help Empower and Respect Others. This group, the HERO Coalition, continues to work to discover new ways to help youth learn to treat others with respect and make healthy and positive choices.

The HERO Coalition also understands that young people must cope with many other challenges in order to live a successful, healthy, and happy life. Too many youth are drawn into the temptation of underage drinking and substance abuse. The Coalition has therefore expanded its focus to address this issue. However, with limited funding and a shoestring budget, progress in forming community support for such an endeavor was cumbersome.

In 2014, the Waconia HERO Coalition was awarded the prestigious Drug-Free Communities (DFC) Support Grant providing $625,000 of funding over five years. The federal grant program provides matching funds to community-based coalitions that organize to prevent youth substance use. The program is the only federal drug prevention program that provides funding directly to local communities. The DFC Support Grant is designed to double the amount of resources available to the HERO Coalition to prevent or reduce substance abuse by requiring a dollar-for-dollar match of in-kind or monetary contributions. The required match will come from District 110, local businesses, and partnering agencies, along with “sweat equity” from Coalition members and community volunteers. Research has shown that this cooperative investment makes a significant impact on reducing illegal substance use among youth. 


Executive Board
Ben Karnes, Chair
Lisa Amott, Secretary

Business / School Board
Cathy Thom

Lisa Amott

Kim Funk

Susan Arntz

Richard Scott

Law Enforcement 



Ben Karnes

Rachel Myers



Youth-Serving Agencies
Hope House
Tree House
Minnesota Teen and Adult Challenge 


Executive, Sustainability Diversity – Driving membership; developing community partnerships; setting long- and short-term goals for the Coalition

Communication, Marketing and Events – Developing, marketing and implementing Coalition-sponsored events; assisting in the development and distribution of marketing pieces; helping grow community partnerships 

Assessment and Evaluation – Working alongside assessment coordinator to review and interpret local and state ATOD data; working with the Coalition to determine what data is necessary to best reach long- and short-term goals

Legislative and Policy – Staying current on local, state, and national ATOD legislation; educating the Coalition on current legislation/policies; researching potential policies for the Coalition 

Parent Engagement Garnering support from parents; encouraging parent involvement in Coalition-sponsored activities and events; providing opportunities for parent voice

Youth Engagement – Garnering support from youth; encouraging youth involvement in Coalition-sponsored activities and events; providing community opportunities for youth voice

Training Opportunities

Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America National Coalition Academy – building drug-free communities

Minnesota’s Prevention Program Sharing Conference – Providing information to Minnesota about preventing alcohol, tobacco and other drug use and abuse since 1981

Search Institute, local training opportunities

Train the Trainer – Responsible Beverage Server Training (RBST)