UofL and UK announced Aug. 7 that Beam Inc. and Brown-Forman Corp. have pledged gifts totaling more than $600,000 over three years to fund ongoing efforts to curb underage and high-risk drinking at both schools. In all, the two companies have given more than $1 million to the two institutions since 2008 to fund alcohol education efforts.

“We are grateful to Beam Inc. and Brown-Forman Corp. for these generous gifts. This money will allow us to further develop risk-averting educational programming not only for our students, but for our community as well,” said UofL President James Ramsey.

Alcohol consumption is a leading predictor of academic success, ranking at number two behind studying outside of class, according to Heather Parrino, coordinator of UofL’s Building Resiliency in Campus Community Coalition (BRICC) program.

Negative consequences associated with drinking can include missing class, getting behind in course work and poor academic performance. Those effects can extend beyond students who consumed the alcohol to include their roommates and friends.

“Partying is fun. We’re not telling students to stop,” said Provost Shirley Willihnganz. “What we are trying to prevent is the unhealthy, risky behavior that happens when students get drunk.”

At UofL, BRICC will use the money to continue programming aimed at responsible student behavior, to collect data and for other activities needed to develop a statewide alcohol awareness initiative.

“More than half of the students who drop out of college typically do so in their first year,” Parrino said.

“The national data tells us that 27 percent of the half that drop out in year one are related to alcohol and substances. Our statewide data matches those numbers. UK and UofL are working together with Beam and Brown-Forman to expand statewide leadership on these issues,” she said.

Both schools are committed to developing more institutional resources through an ongoing statewide partnership with Kentucky Prevention Network. KPN provides opportunities for institutions to collaborate with community organizations and prevention specialists within their regions to reduce high-risk drinking. UK and UofL will contribute $35,000 to fund additional resources for the partnership.