How to start a compeer program

Compeer’s goal is to provide friendship relationships to an increasing number of children and adults across the U.S. and around the world being treated for mental illness or emotional issues. Please consider starting a Compeer program in your area. Compeer staff can help you every step of the way.

Form a task force of people you know (and people they know) who can identify potential advisory committee members with experience in mental health, program funding, advisory committee members with experience in mental health services.The task force is temporary and can disband once an advisory committee has been established. Task force members can become advisory committee members or service as consultants for future efforts. If you have acquired an organization/agency as a sponsor for the Compeer program, members of their board of directors may form a subcommittee to serve as a Compeer advisory committee.

Invite persons identified by your task force to serve on an advisory committee. Provide job responsibilities and team requirements for committee members. Individuals are more inclined to accept an advisory member position if they know expectations up front. Once established, the committee will draft a plan, timeline, budget, and identify resources to support plan, especially in the area of funding.

Interested community leaders are essential to the successful management of the Compeer program. They provide guidance to Compeer staff, assist in securing funding, recruiting volunteers and generating community awareness and acceptance for Compeer.

Programs are required to have a minimum starting budget of $40,000, 25 percent of which can be in-kind gifts such as staff, printing and materials, possibly telephone, travel, postage and other operating expenses. Compeer encourages a minimum staff of at least 19 hours part-time initially Plans for full-time staff should be in place for a program to grow and develop.

Funding sources can include foundations; civic, corporate, churches, and private contributors; United Way contributions; community support programs/services; fund-raising events; a sponsoring agency; and government agencies. Most importantly, program survival depends upon a diversified funding base.

Some groups may decide to form their own non-profit corporation to make Compeer an independent agency. Others are sponsored by mental health associations, community mental health centers, psychiatric hospitals, transitional living facilities, coalitions of churches, or chapters of the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill.

There are advantages to both options:

  • Operating independently may provide less restriction concerning visibility and fund-raising efforts.
  • A sponsoring agency may offer financial security, and/or in-kind services such as a training room, support staff, telephone, postage, and office space

Your advisory committee can help develop the proposal. Compeer staff can provide guidance, information and support which it has compiled from years of experience. To ensure quality programs, Compeer requires that all proposals include the following:

  • Cover letter of intent stating why you/your organization wants to being a Compeer program
  • Sponsor agency name, address, telephone and executive director (if applicable)
  • The name, title and telephone number of a contact person for the proposed Compeer location
  • Copy of your organization’s 501 (c) (3) (if available)
  • Needs assessment, description of problem or need in area
  • The site address of the Compeer program, geographic area to be served, population numbers in that area
  • Program services to be provided, e.g. Adult 1:1
  • List of outreach/referral source
  • Describe recruitment plan
  • Methods that will be in place for monitoring/evaluating the effectiveness of your program
  • List funding sources and description of plans for future funding
  • 3-year strategic plan with goals and measurable objectives to attain goals
  • Budget of itemized revenues to sustain program for 3 years, itemized expenditures (including insurance-coverage in property, crime, general liability, professional liability, auto and directors and officers)
  • Programs are required to have a minimum yearly starting budget of $40,000.00, plus fringe benefits
  • 25% can be in-kind gifts, e.g. staff, printing, materials, telephone, travel, postage and other operating expenses
  • At start-up, Compeer part-time staff works a minimum of 19 hours per week
  • Plan for full-time staff should be developed and implemented to provide the resources for program growth and quality services
  • Authorized agent signature and title
  • Two letters of support from funders/non-profit organizations/local government stating their willingness to support a Compeer program in your community.

Contact the Compeer International Office toll-free at 800-836-0475 or via email at

Compeer’s president and/or board chair reviews each proposal. Upon approval, you will receive a licensing agreement, which should be returned with a start-up fee of $1,800. The new location agrees to maintain Compeer’s quality standards and to follow the Compeer process. The agreement authorizes use of the Compeer name, logo and materials for one year. For expansions of existing locations, the start-up fee is waived and only annual dues are required.
One year after signing the service mark, Compeer locations need to submit an annual membership fee of $600 (U.S.D.)

Compeer staff members are always available for assistance, and they will contact you by phone for a quarterly review to respond to your particular program needs. At 18 months from having executed the service mark, programs must submit a written update addressing each area outlined in your initial proposal, and goals for the upcoming year.

Compeer also provides an operations manual, ongoing technical assistance and support, a quarterly newsletter, and regularly distributes materials on volunteer recruitment, evaluation, public relations and fundraising. In addition, Compeer offers on-site consultations and training opportunities, both individualized and group.