Kevin Kirby, CEO and co-founder of Face It Together, a Sioux Falls, S.D.–based organization, has a plan for involving the private sector in the recovery movement. He’s been working in the field for about 13 years, and after familiarizing himself with the work of Bill White and with Recovery-Oriented Systems of Care (ROSC), he decided that he needed to get the attention of the community. “The whole ROSC model misses the private sector completely,” he said. “If you’re funded by the public sector or live in a community that already has a whiz-bang ROSC, you get the care you need,” he said. But most communities do not have a sustainable ROSC, and the private sector can help. That’s what he’s been working on in Sioux Falls, where Face It Together has such partners as The Bush Foundation (established in 1953 by 3M’s Archibald Bush), Avera (a hospital), Sanford Health (a health plan that is incorporating a peer program) and Ashoka (a fellowship of social entrepreneurs, of which Kirby is a member).

“I’m a survivor of addiction,” Kirby told ADAW. “I’m also a private-sector guy who has had business success, and I’m convinced that the community can solve addiction in many ways.”

In Sioux Falls, Kirby involved a group of employers who saw that there were chronic disease problems in the workforce. “They valued the health of their works,” he said. “But they were missing public enemy number one, which is addiction.”

Face It Together “does everything an RCO [recovery community organization] does,” said Kirby. “But we’re an RCO on steroids.” All services are delivered by peers, and there will be a “menu of services” that will be available to an employer. “Some will be interested in ‘all of the above,’ while some will handpick what fits their structure,” he said.

The model works this way: an employer calls all the employees together, and the CEO announces, “We are no longer in the business of identifying people with addiction and keeping them from working — instead, we will treat addiction like any other sickness, and here is someone from Face It Together to talk about what this disease really is, and how recovery is really possible.”

Financial investors

The employers needed to fund treatment for substance use disorders. At Face It Together, the question of how to support recovery while delivering value to the employers was addressed by a financial investment. There are 35 employers representing 35 to 40 percent of the local workforce, and these employers support Face It Together financially, along with other investors, said Kirby. Other sources of private-sector money include banks, which under the Community Reinvestment Act are required to invest in programs that are qualified based on certain criteria, he said.

Another funding source is United Way. “We approached them and said, ‘So much of what you do is putting lives together after they’ve fallen apart, so rather than continuing exclusively in the damage mitigation business, how about if you help fund Face It Together Sioux Falls, where we will help solve the problem, and provide it for free,’” Kirby said.

Face It Together is expanding to other parts of the country and is now working in three communities in North Dakota. Most of the oil and gas company workers there are transient, and addiction is the “biggest problem” in that workforce, said Kirby. When the dynamics of temporary housing and the temporary lifestyle are added in, “the problem gets bigger,” he said. “We’re working with health care providers and others to devise solutions.”

Kirby has been working on this program for more than a decade. “Eight years ago I got Bill White on the phone and told him how excited I was about everything he wrote,” said Kirby. “I said, ‘Send me the template because I want to do that in my community.’ But the template didn’t exist. Now with 5 million dollars of angel capital, we have the template. We’re making a science of peer recovery supports.”

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