HRSA Training Grant

Breaking new ground

September 2021 Via Hope officially announced the launch of a four year pilot program! This pilot is funded by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), a division of the U.S. Health and Human Services. This Behavioral Health Education and Training (BHWET) grant has allowed for the creation of the Via Hope Peer Specialist Training Program. Via Hope will train and place certified peer specialists in non-traditional settings and create the first registered apprenticeship program for peer specialists in Texas. The overall goal is to improve health outcomes for people served in primary care, criminal justice, and homelessness service settings,

The data collection and evaluation is being performed by the Texas Institute for Excellence in Mental Health. TIEMH focuses on improving the social, emotional, and behavioral health of Texans and is housed in the Steve Hicks School of Social Work at the University of Texas Austin. TIEMH is also known for their national peer support evaluations here.

Peer Specialist Experiential Learning Program

Over a period of 9 months, those who are selected for the experiential learning program will:

  • Take the Core training,  a prerequisite for MHPS, RSPS, and RPS certification
  • Take the training for Mental Health Peer Specialist, Recovery Support Peer Specialist, or ReEntry Peer Support certification 
  • Take five skill-building trainings 
  • Receive placement for their 250 field hours to complete certification, which includes a stipend 
  • Have an opportunity to advance to a year-long stipend apprenticeship position

Partner Site locations

Field hours will take place in one of the following locations: 

Supervision provided by:
  • Association of Persons Affected by Addiction (APAA) – Dallas, Texas
  • Austin Area Mental Health Consumers – Austin, TX


Applicants are required to:

  • Have lived experience in mental health, substance use, and/or incarceration. Lived experience with homelessness is also required for the Texas Homeless Network placement.
  • Attend virtual orientation
  • Commit to attending all trainings
  • Complete 250 field hours over 6 months 


Via Hope HRSA Staff:  

  • Dr. Sandra Smith, Program Director
  • Christina Carney, Program Coordinator 

Have more questions? Check out the Via Hope Peer Specialist Training Program FAQ here

You can also reach out to Christina at

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