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Creating Opportunities for People with Mental Illness to Exercise Power in Their Lives

Grassroots Empowerment Project Inc (GEP) is a Wisconsin state-wide, non-profit organization that is controlled and directed by mental health consumers/survivors.  100% of the Board of Directors and 100% of the staff are persons labeled as having mental illness. We receive funding from Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Adminstration (SAMHSA), State of Wisconsin Department of Health Services, work under contract with OptumHealth, a variety of project grants, fee-for-service trainings and contracts, Community Shares of Wisconsin, and private donations. With the funding we receive we were able to:  


  • Participatory Decision Making Project - Develop, facilitate, and support participatory dialog groups made up of consumers, local policy-makers, family members, and service providers. These dialogs are crucial in changing the current culture of social discrimination at the local level. The groups will work cooperatively to create a shared vision for mental health/wellness in their community, and develop and implement one project that brings the community closer to their shared vision.
  • Development of Peer Run Respite in Western Wisconsin - An alternative to hospitalization and traditional medical services where people who need and want peer support to navigate or avoid a crisis related to mental health and/or substance use challenges. The respite house will be available for and free for anyone in Wisconsin. All of the trained staff are people with lived experience of mental health and/or substance use challenges. NAMI Fox Vally and SOAR Case Management also received funds to develop peer run respites. We are collaborating consistently and in an effort to create a shared vision for all Peer Run Respites in Wisconsin. To learn more please download GEP's presentation on Peer Run Respite.
  • Hold the annual Empowerment Days-a 3 day event to bring together over 150 consumers/survivors to the state capital to meet with policy makers and discuss their ideas and solutions for improving the mental health system and other health care services.
  • Sponsor the statewide mental health consumer/survivor network- United We Stand Wisconsin which
    • Promotes recovery for all
    • To share information on issues that we find important to our recovery
    • To work together with policy makers to improve the services we receive
  • Sponsor the PeerLink program in Milwaukee, Brown, and Racine Counties, which provides certified Peer Specialist services to over 150 OptumHealth members.
  • Provide certified Peer Specialist services to Vocational Rehabilitaiton consumers in Columbia, Dane, Dodge, Jefferson, Marquette, and Sauk counties.
  • We provide education and technical assistant to organizations and government entities on making recovery a reality for those they serve.
  • Hold listening sessions throughout the state to determine a "Peer Developed Vision for Peer-Run Respites" and share it with partners at the local and state level.


For more information on Grassroots Empowerment Project contact:
William Parke-Sutherland

Cell: (608) 345-0067



Click to view "The Success of Consumer Run Services In Supporting Recovery"