Getting to the Conference


Use Your CAT points

Chapter Activity Tracker points you’ve accumulated over the semester can be used to cover your conference registration and lodging. Talk to your outreach coordinator, or email to redeem your CAT points. The last day to make CAT point arrangements is April 26, 2021.

Current SSDP chapter members can use their CAT (Chapter Activity Tracker) Points to register and reserve lodging for the conference. Members traveling from outside of the U.S. are eligible to apply for travel reimbursement funds.


Registration discounts will be awarded at a ratio of 1 CAT point to $1.


All CAT point transactions must be made by Monday, April 26, 2021.


In order to spend your CAT points on conference expenses, you need to have submitted an up-to-date chapter roster and not have any remaining CAT point debt. Once you have met those two conditions, you may contact your outreach coordinator, or send an email to Be prepared to send the full names and email addresses of those from your chapter who plan to use CAT points for registration and/or lodging. Your SSDP staff member will handle lodging confirmations on their end, and they will create a discount code that you can use to complete your registration.

If you have questions about how to log points or aren’t sure if your chapter has a CAT account, please contact your U.S. Movement Building Fellow or Global Program Coordinator.

Go on your university’s dime

This is one of the best and easiest ways to get funding to cover the cost of travel and lodging. Most universities in the United States have student activity funding and/or conference funds that students can use to finance campus life activities, hold events, and travel to conferences. Additionally, academic departments may offer conference scholarships as well. If you plan enough in advance, you may be able to have your school cover the costs up front instead of waiting for a reimbursement.

How to find and apply for conference funding from your university

Adapted from How to get funding from your University in 5 easy steps by Rachel Wissner ’11

  • Research sources of funding.
    • Universities usually will have multiple pools of funding for students to use to finance academic endeavors or extracurricular activities. Make sure you are seeking the right one for conference funding. If your chapter is chartered by or accredited by your university, you may be able to use funding through student government. If your chapter is not chartered by your university, there may be a general activities fund available to you regardless. Do some Googling with the keywords “[your university],” “conference funding,” “student activity funding.” Check with the office of student activities or student life to find out how to apply for conference funding. Check with your academic advisors if there are conference scholarships available through your departments.
  • Estimate your budget.
    • Come up with a budget that includes estimated cost of lodging, travel, conference registration, and meals. Be conservative but realistic. If you show your school that you are being frugal, they may be more inclined to grant you funding to cover most or all of your expenses.
  • Write a proposal.
    • In order to receive funding, you will likely have to submit a proposal or give a presentation in front of a student government committee, university administrators, or faculty. Prepare yourself as much as possible. Make sure all logistical needs are accounted for. Write a brief 250-500 word statement on the conference content, what you want to learn and what skills you want to build, and how attending will support your academic and personal growth. Be prepared to provide items such a copy of past conference programs (available at, a printed copy of the conference website, quotes from rental car agencies or airlines, receipts, a print out of the hotel website, and estimated costs of gas prices.
  • Submit it as early as possible.
    • The earlier you submit your proposal, the more likely you will be granted funding to cover all or most of your costs. Also, if you submit early enough, your school can cover the costs outright instead of providing a reimbursement after the conference.
  • Follow up.
    • After you’ve submitted your proposal, make sure to follow the necessary steps to complete the process. Check back in once a week to make sure you’ve completed everything you need to receive funding. School bureaucracies can often be disorganized, so it is in your best interest to take initiative and stay on top of your request yourself.

DIY Fundraising

There are many ways to fundraise for yourself and your chapter. It’s as simple as using an online fundraising platform like Gofundme or Youcaring and sharing your fundraiser on social media, or asking your friends and family to chip in. In the past, students have done Spring cleaning and sold old belongings on E-bay to raise money to travel to the conference. Your chapter can hold a bake sale on your campus, a potluck dinner, or a party at a venue. For help hosting a fundraising event, please check out our Student Fundraising Events Guide.

Apply for scholarships from outside organizations

Outside organizations may provide travel scholarships or stipends to student activists or academics. One example is the scholarship from Speech First. Google searches including the keywords “student conference travel funding” can yield results. It may take some fishing through search results, but there is funding out there for student civic and political engagement.

Secure a first-time corporate sponsor

SSDP students and alumni who secure a first-time corporate conference sponsor can earn one free conference registration. Contact with questions about this opportunity.

International Scholarships

This scholarship fund aids non-US SSDP members to attend the conference. The international network has grown rapidly over the last year and we hope to bring as a diverse and representative group of people from our network to the conference. The fund intends to aid these members finance their data costs to attend the virtual conference.

This scholarship will be awarded to members of the international network whose activities have had significant impact. Preference will be given to those from the global south and those who have not previously attended a SSDP Conference.

Deadline: TBA

Eligibility: Active SSDP chapter members, active SSDP Ambassadors and alumni (are required to have continued involvement with SSDP).

To apply: TBA

To donate: Tax-deductible donations to this scholarship fund can be made here.