Alternatives 2009Thanks for visiting the Alternatives 2008 website.
We keep it available as a reference. 

Visit the Alternatives 2009 website at:

Creating Community Through Active Citizenship

Funding Information

Information on Alternatives 2009 can be found at the website:

Funding Information for 2009

The Federal Scholarship Deadline is June 5, 2009. Don’t count on getting a scholarship.

If you are going to need financial assistance to attend, the time to start looking is NOW! Below you will find some ideas and resources for you to use in your search for funding. We hope you find these useful.

Some people who receive case management services are finding success in requesting that their trip to Alternatives be funded through their service dollars. Speak to your case manager about using it for your empowerment and recovery activities.

How much does it cost?

How to estimate the cost of attending Alternatives, including registration, lodging, transportation, and meals:

Hotel accommodations:

Most people will stay 4 nights at the hotel (night before and last night of conference). Special rate room are usually arranged. Also, having 2 or more people in a room costs less because you split the costs and possibly make a new friend or two. Contact above for more information.

NOTE: If you are from a nonprofit organization, bring a copy of your nonprofit form to waive part of the room tax.

Spending Money:

We recommend about $40 per day to cover additional expenses, such as the evening meal.

We encourage you to seek funding now at the local and state level

See below for a sample letter that you may complete and use in seeking funding. The letter could be changed as appropriate to be from you or your group. We encourage you to contact a potential funding source directly with your own letter.

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.
  • State Departments of mental health
    • Community Support Program Office
    • Officer of Consumer Affairs
  • Provider agencies, including community mental health providers and managed care organizations.
  • Consumer groups (a fundraising event like a car wash can help establish a scholarship fund)
  • Civic, service, or religious organizations, such as Kiwanis club, Rotary club, Lions Club, American Legion Auxiliary, Knights of Columbus, or your church, synagogue, or place of worship.

When asking for funding:

Make your initial approach by either making a phone call or writing a letter. (sample letter follows)

  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 2008. Be sure to stress the well-established value of the Alternatives conference as a source of technical assistance on consumer-delivered services. The attached letter from The National Empowerment Center 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.

Start immediately. Alternatives 2009 will be October 29 - November 1, 2009. The early bird registration deadline will probably be in August 2009. Some companies or organizations may have money left at end of their fiscal year that they need to spend during the summer; this could be a good time to seek support. 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.

Be persistent. Don’t give up. You may need to ask several places before you obtain funding, and/or get funding from several sources. 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.

Make this a “funding campaign for Alternatives 2009”. Often when students or teams want to go somewhere, they have to raise money. They tell all their friends, have fund raising events and get people to rally around their plan to attend the event they are excited about. Try writing a letter that briefly states why you want to go to Alternatives and ask your friends, co-workers etc. to contribute to your trip.

GOOD LUCK! See you at Alternatives 2009!

[Sample Letter]
May be copies and completed and given or sent to possible funding organizations

Your Name
Your Address
City, State Zip

Local Mental Health Program or other possible funding source
City, State Zip

Dear ______________________

I am a mental health consumer and attend the local mental health program. I have been involved in ….

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

The Alternatives Conference is a national conference organized by and for mental health consumers & survivors to share ideas and experiences to transform our lives and the mental health system. Information is enclosed on the Alternatives conference.

I am requesting financial support to attend the Alternatives Conference in Omaha, Nebraska from October ___ - ___, 2009. The cost of registration is: _________; Travel to the conference: __________; hotel cost __________. I am able to pay for ________.

(Please add information that you think is important.)

I would appreciate any assistance that you can provide for my attendance to the Alternatives Conference.


[Your name]

Some other ways to make attending the conference more affordable:

Find out if Alternatives 2009 has a forum where people can arrange to share a ride or a hotel room with someone during the conference. Contact the Clearinghouse (above) for more information.

There are usually opportunities to volunteer at the conference to get a reduced registration rate. Contact the Clearinghouse (above) for more information.