Getting to the Conference


Use Your CAT points

CAT points you’ve accumulated over the semester can be used to cover your conference registration and lodging. Talk to your Movement Building Fellow to redeem your CAT points. The last day to make CAT point arrangements is Thursday, February 28. However, it is strongly recommended that you do so well before the deadline so that you have enough time to book your flight at an affordable rate. The price (both in dollars and in CAT points) for registration will increase on 2/1 and again on 3/1.

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 Getting to SSDP2017 on your University’s Dime by Miranda Gottlieb ‘15

  • 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.

Diversity Awareness Reflection Education Scholarship

Founded in 2011, the SSDP Diversity Awareness Reflection and Education (DARE) committee endeavors to strengthen diversity within SSDP and ensure the range of perspectives and personal experiences of all communities and individuals negatively impacted in the War on Drugs are represented and integrated into SSDP and the drug policy reform movement at large. DARE provides conference scholarships for people who identify with groups that are underrepresented within SSDP and those directly impacted by the War on Drugs.

Deadline: 2/3/19

Eligibility: This scholarship is for members of SSDP and its larger network.

To apply: Submit this application

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

The Daniel Jabbour ’07 Memorial Scholarship

Daniel Jabbour ‘07, an SSDP all-star alumnus, passed away in April of 2014. To honor and remember him, SSDP created the Daniel Jabbour Scholarship Fund to help send outstanding activists to SSDP conferences. Daniel’s driving passions in drug policy reform, psychedelics, and harm reduction led him to found the San Francisco Psychedelic Society. This scholarship will be awarded to someone who has exhibited their dedication to education and policy reform around psychedelics and/or harm reduction.

Deadline: 2/3/19

Eligibility: SSDP students, SSDP alumni, and members of the San Francisco Psychedelic Society who have exhibited dedication to harm reduction and policy reform for psychedelics.

To apply: Submit this application

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

International Scholarships

Our students who are traveling from outside the United States are eligible to apply for scholarship funding, subject to availability.

Deadline: 1/4/19

Eligibility: SSDP members in good standing, based outside of the United States, who are already registered for the conference

To apply: Submit this application

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

DanceSafe Scholarship

DanceSafe is a 501(c)(3) public health organization that promotes health and safety in the electronic music and nightlife communities. With 24 chapters and hundreds of trained volunteers, DanceSafe provides peer education and free harm reduction services to attendees of music festivals and nightlife events. DanceSafe is seeking compassionate, motivated individuals who express interest in harm reduction and drug policy reform to attend SSDP2019 to help work the DanceSafe booth at the conference, and to assist in providing harm reduction services.

Deadline: 2/3/19

Eligibility: SSDP students and alumni, DanceSafe Volunteers, and anyone who has exhibited dedication to drug policy reform and harm reduction.

To apply: Submit this application

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.