Call Us!
24/7/365 WNC Listening Line  
Donate Securely

Sunrise is recognized as a leading expert in the Peer Support model and is the only NC non-profit that is 100% staffed by those in recovery from substance use and mental health challenges. 

Sunrise’s Peer University program provides learning and professional development opportunities to individuals in recovery who are currently Certified Peer Support Specialists as well as those interested in becoming Certified Peer Support Specialists. Sunrise’s Peer University is an integral part in providing the training, support and education needed for individuals to complete their Peer Support certification and join the workforce and the community as a Certified Peer Support Specialist. 

Incarceration, substance use and mental health challenges are typically seen as barriers to employment and economic stability. 

Sunrise’s Peer University helps remove barriers by providing a pathway to becoming a Certified Peer Support Specialist– an employable position utilizing lived experience to build individual and community connection resulting in increased access to healthcare, resources and recidivism.

In other words, your record is your resume! This results in a stronger community as those who are typically left out of the traditional job market are offered a chance to contribute to our local economy. 

Call 828-552-3858 to find out when the next session begins. Classes are FREE but Registration is required

Speak to a Sunrise staff member at 828-552-3858, email or fill out the form below to enroll today!

Peer Support 101
Let Peer University introduce you to the world of resource navigation and networking!
Sinking or Swimming in Certifications
Learn the steps and aspects required for obtaining the Peer Support Specialist certification.
Peer Support Groups & Facilitation
Get an overview of different support groups, what is required as a facilitator and how to navigate difficult situations that may arise.
Peer Support & Spirituality
Class discussion on understanding, respecting and navigating conversations pertaining to religion and spirituality as a Peer Support Specialist
Speaker Series: Seek Healing’s Intro to Listening
Learn how to connect with peers in a profound way through active listening
Peer Support and Harm Reduction
Learn about the benefits of implementing harm reduction and the tools that help promote a healthier community.
Speaker Series: Naloxone Training
Learn how to reverse an opioid overdose with our Peer Specialists at the Safe Syringe Program within Buncombe County Health and Human Services.
Peer Support and Verbal De-escalation
Gain knowledge on the stages of escalation and learn where and when a Peer Support Specialist can make the biggest difference.
Peer Support and Recovery Messaging
Learn about common language used within the peer support world, the stigma associated with popular terms and how to be intentional with our words.
Peer Support and Racial Equity 101
In-depth discussion on the notion of “race”, equity vs equality, how to start the conversation and how systematic racism has affected (and affects) our communities.
Peer Support in the Justice System
Learn how Peer Support Specialists work within and the effect they have on the healthcare, criminal justice, education and corporate sectors.
Peer Support and Diversity
Unpack from a neutral perspective how to support, learn from and connect with peers facing exclusion due to their race, gender, age and more
Speaker Series: Friday Guest Speakers
Each Friday a guest speaker from Sunrise will share their role at Sunrise, their recovery story and answer any questions

How do I become a Peer Support Specialist?

A Peer Support Specialist can also be called peer specialists, peer recovery coaches, peer advocates, and peer recovery support specialists. This is a credentialed position where your life experience replaces intensive schooling and formal work experience. Peer Support positions often pay above minimum wage and is a pathway to a career for many who face barriers to employment such as incarceration, houselessness, substance use recovery and mental health challenges. 

By becoming a Peer Support Specialist, you can strengthen your professional development opportunities as well as provide much needed support, hope and effective change in the community.  


  • Up to a year of personal recovery from substance use and/or mental health challenges 
  • Complete approved 40-hour peer support training program. CLICK HERE for a listing of current trainings.
  • Include two reference letters validating at least one year of personal recovery 
  • Complete an additional 20 hours of continued education through Sunrise’s Peer University, Recovery Coach Training or other professional and interpersonal training sessions. 
  • Speak to a Sunrise staff member at 828-552-3858, email or fill out the form below to enroll in Sunrise’s Peer University Program. 



Being a Certified Peer Support Specialist is rewarding work, yet it presents its own set of challenges. Peer Support Specialists work with populations who have similar lived experience. These interactions may open up vulnerabilities and trauma triggers for the Peer Support Specialist. 

Our Peer University not only provides trainings in promoting safe boundaries, understanding trauma and self-care, it also provides a network of seasoned Peers Support Specialist who offer support, encouragement and counsel.   


Participants in Peer University can take their newfound knowledge to get on-the-job-training as a volunteer with Sunrise. Under the guidance of a seasoned Peer Support Specialist, volunteers commit to 10 hours a week for four to six consecutive weeks while gaining valuable knowledge about the role of peer support in a workplace environment.


After the volunteer phase has been completed, the Peer University student may be eligible for an internship with Sunrise, which consists of a 20-hour per week commitment for four weeks with a $150 weekly stipend. Once completed, the intern is ready to update their resume to reflect the valuable experience gained at Peer University and during their internship. 


Sunrise provides multiple continuing education and professional development opportunities for Peer Support Specialists. Our trainings strengthen skills to improve skills needed to be an effective Peer Support Specialist. Click on our training opportunities to find out the next available session.

For more information, please fill out the form below!