Compeer was founded in 1973 in Rochester, N.Y., and it started with just 12 volunteers. Today, nearly 4,000 volunteers in Compeer locations around the world serve people with mental illnesses.

The National Institute of Mental Health chose Compeer as a model program in 1982 and funded the development of similar programs throughout the nation. Today, Compeer is a model mental health organization with over 50 locations in the U.S., Canada and Australia.

Routinely recognized as a national model, the agency has received the Presidential Recognition award by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the inaugural Eleanor Roosevelt Community Service award, the Presidential Volunteer Action award, four Points of Light awards and recognition from the American Psychiatric Association.

Key Milestones

1973 Mental Health Association in Rochester, NY establishes the Adopt-A-Patient program to enable formerly institutionalized patients to successfully live in the community.


Adopt-A-Patient name changes to Compeer.

1980  Compeer was chosen as a model program for the state of New York.


The National Institute of Mental Health selects Compeer as a national model and provided funding to encourage replication of the model throughout the nation.

Compeer receives the Presidential Recognition Award from the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services.


The organization incorporates as Compeer, Inc.

The first National Conference is held—with 18 Compeer programs in 15 states.

Compeer receives the Certification of Significant Achievement Award from the American Psychiatric Association.


Compeer receives the first New York State Eleanor Roosevelt Community Service Award.

President Reagan gives Compeer a Presidential Volunteer Action Award Citation.
1989 President George Bush presents the Presidential Volunteer Service Award to Compeer.
1992 Newsweek runs a Special Report on Compeer, “The Power of Friendship.”

Compeer establishes its first overseas program in Rotterdam, the Netherlands.

1996 Compeer establishes its first affiliate in Sydney, Australia.

1997 Point of Light Foundation chooses Compeer as a Connect America Partner.

2001 Boston University research study begins on the efficacy of adult Compeer relationships.

2002 Compeer receives the Eli Lilly Reintegration Award for social integration.

2003 The Compeer Program is presented at the World Federation on Mental Health in Melbourne, Australia.

2004 Mentoring Children of Incarcerated Parents service begins through SAMHSA grant.

 2005 An American Psychological Association task force highlights the Compeer model as a best practice for recovery in its publication, “Training and Best Practices for Recovery and Improved Outcomes for People with Serious Mental Illness.”

Australia becomes the first country outside the U.S. to host the International Compeer Conference.


St. Vincent DuPaul Society’s Compeer Sydney program receives national recognition as a recipient of the NAB Award, a statewide recognition as a best practice volunteer organization.

2008 Boston University research study concludes.

2011 Compeer begins pilot CompeerCORPS program.

2012 Australia hosts strategic visioning conference with president/CEO of Compeer


Compeer celebrates 40 years of healing through the power of friendship and 40 years of success of the award-winning Compeer model.

The award-winning Compeer model is added to the SAMHSA National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices (NREPP).

Compeer was selected as a national model in 1982 by the National Institute of Mental Health, which funded the development of similar programs throughout the nation.