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Focus Areas

RCO Capacity Building

Recovery Community Organizations (RCOs) are nonprofit organizations, founded and led by members of the local recovery community. They were born out of the need to do more to support people experiencing substance use challenges. RCOs offer community education about addiction and recovery, advocate for fair and equitable public policies, run anti-stigma campaigns, and/or offer no-barrier access to peer-based and other recovery support services.

RCOs often serve as recovery centers where individuals struggling with substance use or in recovery, as well as their families and loved ones, make connections to others who understand recovery first-hand. Whether individuals receive clinical treatment or not, RCOs offer a community that strengthens and supports them to build a meaningful, healthy life-long recovery that is unique to everyone.

Our Focus Area offers training and technical assistance to both emerging and established RCOs, assisting in operational, programmatic, and financial management practices so they may more effectively advance their mission.

RCOs are the primary training resource for SUD peer support workers and serve as key employers of peer recovery support professionals. To support the development and expansion of the peer workforce, the PR CoE provides tools, trainings, and resources that aid RCOs in building their capacity and infrastructure to do even more of this valuable work. For example, each year the PR CoE hosts a learning collaborative for RCO leadership and staff that focuses on essential RCO functions such as volunteer management, community and stakeholder engagement, and nonprofit basics.

Additional Information about RCO Capacity Building

“As people who work with RCOs, we have seen firsthand how these organizations are the main drivers of the recovery movement yet rarely get credit — or funding — for the work they do. To heal families and communities from the devastating impact of addiction, federal and state governments need to support people who have been on the front lines of the addiction epidemic and the kind of meaningful mutual aid they provide that has been saving lives for years.”

Stauffer, William, and Ryan Hampton. “Recovery Community Organizations Need More than Bake Sales to Help People Survive Addiction.” Stat, 4 Feb. 2022, . Accessed 21 Dec. 2022.

In the article Peer-based Recovery Support Services Delivered at Recovery Community Organizations: Predictors of Improvements in Individual Recovery Capital, Ashford et al. (2022) concluded that peer services delivered by RCOs help improve the quality of life for the people receiving peer services and connect people to a wide variety of recovery resources such as housing, employment, and education.

Ashford, R. D., Brown, A., Canode, B., Sledd, A., Potter, J. S., & Bergman, B. G. (In Press). Peer-based Recovery Support Services Delivered at Recovery Community Organizations: Predictors of Improvements in Individual Recovery Capital. Journal of Addictive Behaviors.

Products and Resources



Building and Strengthening the Capacity of Recovery Community Organizations: Results of a Needs Assessment Across U.S. RCOs

The Peer Recovery CoE is pleased to share Building and Strengthening the Capacity of Recovery Community Organizations: Results of a Needs Assessment Across U.S. RCOs. The purpose of this multi-modal needs assessment of RCOs within the 10 HHS regions was to determine strengths and challenges across RCO setting types in order to guide the future endeavors of the PR CoE, specifically through the provision of learning collaboratives and technical assistance. Through the utilization of digital surveys, regional stakeholder interviews and regional listening sessions, we were able to identify gaps in services and RCO resources, as well as an informed prioritization of future trainings and assistance offerings. This information will not only serve as guidance for the PR CoE, but is also available for those serving in any capacity with an RCO who might be seeking direction in allocating resources, financial or otherwise. We know that recovery is possible. And this hope inspires us to believe in the power of the collective. Together, we can work toward building and strengthening the capacity of Recovery Community Organizations.


Curriculum or Toolkit

Recovery Friendly Workplace Toolkit

The Peer Recovery CoE is pleased to share our Recovery Friendly Workplace Toolkit. We believe that employers play a critical role in fighting the disease of addiction. We want to make it easier for you to understand better how to create and maintain recovery friendly practices in your company. In this toolkit, we introduce substance use disorder, its impact in the workplace, and how to develop and support a Recovery Friendly Workplace. The goal of this toolkit is to provide you with practical tools and information. Too often, we ignore problems and do not provide resources to help people take action. Learn how being a Recovery Friendly Workplace can also benefit your company.


Curriculum or Toolkit

Peer Support Toolkit (City of Philadelphia DBHIDS)

This toolkit from Philadelphia's Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disAbility Services, is designed to support behavioral health treatment agencies with the process of integrating peer providers into their service settings. The Peer Support Toolkit incorporates many of the promising practices and resources that have emerged during the last decade of Philadelphia’s recovery-focused system transformation effort. Tools in this kit are designed to help agencies to recruit, retain, and effectively deploy people in recovery in a variety of peer support roles. The resources and information provided is relevant for executive leadership along with supervisors and peer staff.


Curriculum or Toolkit

Recovery Community Organization Toolkit

This toolkit, developed by the Friends of Recovery-New York RCO, is based on lessons learned from local and national partners involved in the Recovery Movement, including Faces & Voices of Recovery, noted Addiction & Recovery researcher, William White, and local RCOs throughout the state. Building and maintaining recovery capital requires patience, understanding of group processes, and appreciation of cultural differences. This toolkit has been designed to provide you with the background, tools, and tactics you’ll need to engage all members of the recovery community. It will help you work together to build an infrastructure that will support and sustain recovery for local individuals and families impacted by addiction.


The Team

The University of Wisconsin-Madison houses the Center for Health Enhancement Systems Studies, a leader in supporting the behavioral health field. UW developed and promotes the NIATx model to facilitate organizational/systems change in human services settings and leads research to support people in SUD treatment. Research results include increased access to and retention in treatment and reduced recurrence rates for people in recovery. UW currently serves as the HHS Region 5 Great Lakes ATTC, MHTTC, and PTTC.


Kris Kelly

Team Lead, RCO Capacity Building


Todd Molfenter

RCO Capacity Building


Nell Hurley

Steering Committee, RCO Capacity Building

Peer Integration image tile, three hands grabbing each other's wrist.

Peer Service Integration

We are focused on supporting the integration of peer recovery support services (PRSS) into new and expanding settings.
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RCO Capacity Building

We are focused on building the capacity of Recovery Community Organizations (RCOs).
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Peer Workforce Development

We are focused on developing the peer and peer supervision fields.
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Evidence Based Practices

We are focused on bridging the gap between evidence-based practices and practice-based evidence.
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Health Equity

We are focused on incorporating a lens of diversity, equity, inclusion, justice, and belonging in the work of peers, organizations, communities, and of the Peer Recovery Center of Excellence.
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Funding for this initiative was made possible by grant no. 1H79TI083022 from SAMHSA. The views expressed in written conference materials or publications and by speakers and moderators do not necessarily reflect the official policies of the Department of Health and Human Services; nor does mention of trade names, commercial practices, or organizations imply endorsement by the U.S. Government.