Obtaining Funding for Alternatives 2019

Sunday, July 7 through Thursday, July 11, 2019

Catholic University, 620 Michigan Ave., NE, Washington, DC 20064

We do not have funds available to provide scholarships for the Alternatives Conference. We recommend that conference attendees seek funding from local organizations and agencies. Potential funding sources include your employer, state- and city-wide mental health advocacy groups, peer-run and consumer-run groups, and disability rights advocacy organizations. We are hopeful that local organizations will provide funding for individuals from their area who are interested in attending.

The National Coalition for Mental Health Recovery would like everyone to be able to attend Alternatives 2019 regardless of income. If you are looking for financial assistance to attend, the time to start is now! Following are some ideas and resources for you to use in your search for funding. We hope you find them useful.

We look forward to seeing you in Washington, D.C. this summer!


The following are the known costs of attending Alternatives 2019, including registration, lodging, transportation, and meals. 

A.   Conference Registration Fees:

Early Bird (by April 20) and Presenter-Full Conference Registration ---------->$295

One Day Early Bird Registration-------------------------------------------------------->$95

Full Conference Registration fee includes:

  • All day and evening conference sessions

  • Three meals a day Monday-Thursday,

  • Sunday dinner only

  • Friday breakfast only

  • Overnight lodging is NOT included

B.   Lodging:

(Click here to visit the Lodging page)

Cost of Dorm Rooms at Catholic University

  • Private single with private bathroom: $90.00 per night

  • Private single with bathroom shared with one to three other people: $50.00 per night

  • Double (two people sharing a room with private bathroom): $65.00 per night per person

  • Double (two people sharing a room; bathroom shared with others): $40.00 per night per person

In addition, there will be a one-time $20.00 per person linen fee, plus tax and fee.

Other lodging options:

Nearby Hotels: see Lodging page for more information

Hostels: A low-budget accommodation shared among travelers. When a guest books a stay in a hostel, he or she typically books a bed for one or two nights, not a room. The guest's bed may be in a shared room with three other travelers, or in a room with up to twenty travelers. Guests usually have a personal locker (some hostels offer free luggage storage). Some hostels do have private rooms and private bathrooms.  Website: https://www.hostelworld.com/search?search_keywords=Washington+DC,+USA&country=USA&city=Washington-DC&date_from=2018-07-31&date_to=2018-08-03&number_of_guests=1

AirBNB or VRBO are community marketplaces for people to list, discover, and book unique accommodations around the world — online or from a mobile phone or tablet. You can rent a room, a whole apartment, even a house, at any price point. In Washington DC, prices appear to start around $99 per person/per night. JUST BE SURE that your accommodations are close enough to the conference destination and accessible by the transportation method you use.

C.   Transportation (from airport and around the city)

Arriving from the Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport you have three options:

  • Public Transportation is very reliable. Washington, D.C.’s Subway is called “The Metro.” Catholic University is on the red-line at the Brookland-CUA station.

  • Lyft, Uber or Taxi Service (available 24/7 and can be booked in advance). Reagan National Airport Taxi Service http://www.flyreagan.com/dca/taxi-service

  • Shuttles (available 24/7 and can be booked in advance)

Public Transportation: ($2.00 one way) Smartphones can be used to type in the destination and use the "public transit" mode for real time directions and updates.





Included is a sample letter that you may complete and use in seeking funding. The attached could be changed as appropriate to be from you or your group. We encourage you to make a direct contact with a potential funding source by composing your own letter. Individuals are often successful at getting money for expenses. It’s worth the effort. 

Some ideas of possible sources of funding include:

  • Your employer, for work-related, training opportunities

  • Committees of which you are a part, including:

--State Mental Health Planning Councils
--Consumer advisory boards of provider organizations or local mental health authorities
--State Protection & Advocacy (P&A) boards
--State Protection & Advocacy for Individuals with Mental Illness (PAIMI) advisory boards

  • City or county mental health authorities

  • National or state organizations such as NAMI or Mental Health Association chapters and their local chapters

  • State and local DBSA/AA/NA and other 12 Step Chapters

  • State Departments of Mental Health

--Community Support Program Office

--Office of Consumer Affairs

  • State and local Mental Health Associations

  • State and local Offices of Mental Health/Community Service Boards

  • State and local peer-run networks or organizations/recovery centers/peer programs

  • Provider agencies, including community mental health providers and managed care organizations or health insurance companies (e.g. wellness programs)

  • Consumer groups (a fundraising event like a car wash can help establish a scholarship fund)

  • Civic, service, or religious organizations (Rotary, Lions, Kiwanis, Elks, VFW

  • Private businesses may contribute to an organization, yet not individuals. Many businesses want to give to a local organization in their community.

  • Charitable foundations

  • Hospitals, urgent care facilities, or community mental health agencies

  • Housing organizations, residential facilities, or case management organizations

Please Note: These offices have not promised to provide such financial assistance, but it can’t hurt to ask!

Tips on asking for funding:

Make your initial approach by either making a phone call or writing a letter (sample letter follows). Ask a friend or relative to help you do this, if needed.

  1. If you know someone in the organization, contact that person. If you do not know anyone at the organization, call to find out the name of the most appropriate person to ask for financial assistance with conference fees and then contact that person. *If you feel that talking to a possible funding source is not something you are comfortable with, you might ask a friend, peer, or drop-in/self-help contact person to help you with this, and/or accompany you.

  2. Discuss your goals and motivations for attending Alternatives 2019. Be sure to stress the well-established value of the Alternatives conference as a source of technical assistance on consumer-delivered services. The sample letter below might be helpful.

  3. Follow up on your initial contact. It is unlikely that just a letter or a telephone call will get you the money you need to attend the conference. Try to schedule a meeting with the person you contact. After the meeting, write a letter to thank the person for his or her time and summarize the points covered in the meeting. This will document what you agreed upon. Ask for help with this if needed.

  4. Start immediately. Alternatives will be July 7 – 11, 2019. The early bird registration deadline is May 15, 2019. Let the potential funding sources know that you need their decision as soon as possible so that you can make your arrangements. The longer you wait to make hotel and flight reservations, the more expensive they may become. You also run the risk of not being able to make reservations at all if you wait too long.

  5. Be persistent. Don’t give up. You may need to ask several places before you obtain funding. If you can raise part of the money yourself, a funding source may be willing to help with part of the expense to attend this worthwhile conference.



Crowdfunding is the practice of funding a project or activity by raising monetary contributions from a large number of people. Setting up a crowdfund to raise money to attend the conference can be done online. Do an online search of the term “crowdfunding,” and you’ll find sites that allow you to create a page that describes why you’re seeking money to attend the conference and how much money you need for it. Once the page is created, you can send it to others and/or post it on social media to advertise your page. 

Sample letter that you might use to seek funding to attend Alternatives


Your Name

Your Address

City, State Zip

Telephone Number and/or email address


Name of Local Mental Health Program or other possible funding source


City, State  Zip

RE: ALTERNATIVES 2019 CONFERENCE - July 7 - 11, 2019 – Washington, D.C.

Dear ______________________:

I am a mental health consumer and attend ____________________(insert local mental health program). I have been involved in ….

(We recommend including information on your mental health involvement and reasons they might sponsor you.)

I would like to attend the Alternatives Conference, which is a national conference organized by and for mental health consumers and survivors to share ideas and experiences to transform our lives and the mental health system. It will be held at Catholic University in Washington, D.C. from July 7 - 11, 2019. Link to Alternatives 2019 website:  https://www.alternatives-conference.org/

I am writing to request your financial support to attend the conference. The cost of registration is $295; travel (including airfare and ground transportation) will be approximately $__________; dormhotel cost for four nights is $__________; totaling $__________. I am able to pay $________.

(Please add information that you think is important. Especially, if you have applied to be a presenter at the conference we recommend including your proposal with these letters.)

I would appreciate any assistance that you can provide for my attendance to the Alternatives Conference. Please contact me at (add phone number and/or email address where you want to be contacted).



(Sign your name)