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How can the HESPC help campuses thrive?

The HESPC is a leader in college-based suicide prevention. We started four years ago by simply reaching out to Pennsylvania colleges and asked who would like to come to the table to talk about suicide prevention. In less than a month, over half of our state’s campuses were on board. Since then, over 100 Pennsylvania campuses have participated in HESPC activities and we’ve expanded to bring on partners from over 18 different states.


Why do we need your support?

For the past four years, our efforts have been supported by a federal grant. In September 2019, those funds run out. While we may be fortunate enough to secure future funding for our efforts, there are no guarantees that the money will be there, even though the suicide rate in the United States continues to rise. The HESPC needs to become self-sufficient. We have multiple programs and efforts already in place and so many more opportunities in front of us, with the right support.

How can you help campuses Thrive?

Click to view our Infographic. Further details can be found below.

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What could we do with your support?
  • Continue to offer the Annual Conference at a reduced rate for attendees – Our current federal grant provides $25,000 support annually for the conference. While we can always increase the overall cost to attendees to cover the difference, we feel that doing so would negatively impact attendance and our ability to provide this amazing learning and networking event to so many.
  • Expand the student track at the conference – Each year at the annual conference, we offer a student track for those who often serve as mental health ambassadors on their home campuses. This track includes targeted breakout sessions that include student perspectives, as well as specific learning sessions for students to develop their own ideas to bring home with them. These sessions are led by our partners at Active Minds and The JED Foundation. Currently, the student track costs about $6,000 to run, not to mention the significantly reduced registration rate (typically only $25) that we offer to students, which is far less than cost. Donations would allow us to continue to offer this track at the reduced rate, including our leadership partners, and perhaps expand this to include more students and/or more student-focused activities at the conference.
  • Re-establish the student journalism track at the conference or expand this into a semester- or year-long institute for students (and possibly professionals) focused on mental health reporting on college campuses – At our first Annual Conference in 2016, the HESPC partnered with the Scattergood Foundation to offer a student journalism track. This included a process by which up to 20 journalism students on college campuses could apply to attend the conference for free and receive mentorship from several leading journalism experts. Students had specific breakout sessions with the mentors, a dinner with questions and answers with the mentors, and personalized feedback on story ideas. Our experts had both regional and national recognition for their work, providing a one-of-a-kind experience for our students. Running the journalism track cost $10,000. With funding beyond that mark, we could consider expanding this to include extended mentoring, online learning modules on the topic, and/or an extended institute with meetings over the course of a semester or year.
  • Policy and procedure manuals – Over the past few years, some states have begun to mandate that college campuses have formal policies and procedures for working with suicidal students. Most all campuses have some crisis intervention policies; however, they rarely address the nuances specific to working with suicidal students. Therefore, they typically fail to meet state requirements. Our team of experts, along with national collaborators, could develop sample policy and procedure manuals. Additionally, we could offer consultation and review of manuals offered by our campus partners.
  • Awareness campaign materials – One of the many activities that campuses often participate in is suicide prevention awareness campaigns. These may be audio/visual campaigns on campus, speakers, or other activities to help alert students to warning signs about suicide, how to seek help, and how to assist others in need. The HESPC would help design a series of materials with consistent, nationally recognized messaging that could be downloaded or purchased and be used on campuses. The scope of this project could be very narrow or very wide, thus donations would support the breadth of materials that could be made available across media.
  • Website expansion – The HESPC could expand the website to improve access to materials, enhance user experience, and help bring elements of several of our websites in one central location. Cost would range from $5,000 – $15,000 annually.

What more could we do with your support?
  • Clinical trainings for counseling center staff – College counseling center staff are well trained and do incredible work, but the scope of their work has changed dramatically over the past 3-5 years with a much larger emphasis on crisis management. As such, the HESPC could provide direct clinical trainings for staff on the most up-to-date empirically validated interventions for working with suicidal individuals. This could occur at individual campuses or through summer training institutes. However, content experts, space, materials, etc., cost a considerable amount of money. Estimates suggest that a 3-day training institute for 50 participants would cost approximately $25,000.
  • Online learning modules – Through our partnership with Prevent Suicide PA, we are able to develop and offer online learning courses through Each course requires careful planning and development, including filming the video portion, writing the content and review questions, and inputting the necessary materials onto the website. Depending on the content experts needed for new modules, expenses for each new course could range from $5,000 – $12,000 each.
  • Provide CE credits for professional on online learning site – We are frequently asked if continuing education (CE) credits are available for the online courses on Currently, we offer all of the courses for free and wish to remain a free online learning site. Given that, we are not able to offer CE credits. CE credits generally must be approved from national professional associations at an annual cost (often $300 – $500 for each professional group) with additional costs associated with each credit offered. Additional costs would be needed for programming on the learning site to automatically populate the credits.
  • Expand the mini-grant offerings, either in number of awards or size of award – Currently, our federal grant support has allowed us to offer up to 10 mini-grants at up to $750 each. Donations of $7,500 would allow us to continue this support, whereas increased donations would allow us to expand the awards.
  • Create a resource clearinghouse of existing and new materials to support colleges in their suicide prevention and wellness promotion efforts – Several organizations, as well as federal grant partners, have developed excellent resources to assist college campuses in their work with suicidal students. Unfortunately, these resources are scattered about in many different places and not organized well. Donations would allow us to spend the needed time to organize a clearinghouse of these resources, including some of our own, so that our campus partners have ready access to all of the materials they will need to carry out their work.
  • Provide financial support to expand or enhance inpatient services for college students – Through advocacy and collaborations, the HESPC will work to enhance the experience of college students requiring inpatient psychiatric hospitalization. Our goal is to make hospital stays rewarding and dignified, while also tailoring the experience to the life of college students. For example, we are currently working with an area hospital to build a college-specific inpatient unit. One enhancement to consider would be a computer lab where patients can link up with the colleges to stay on track with coursework, should this be deemed clinically appropriate by their providers.