The Sleep Out: Student Edition is an opportunity for young adults to spend time together immersing themselves in some of the problems that homeless teens face every day and to be part of the solution to these problems.
Sleep Out: Student Edition events can be held anywhere in the world. They can be as small as a few kids participating and as large as hundreds coming together. The structure is similar to a dance marathon or team relay program, with fundraising and awareness at the forefront. Students are responsible for planning and customizing their event, which includes fundraising for Covenant House New Jersey to keep the lights on and the doors open and spending one night sleeping outside in solidarity with the homeless kids they are helping. Our staff is here to help along the way with coaching, technical assistance, and materials.
We recommend that participants in Sleep Out: Student Editions:
Identify an adult advisor and a student team captain to select a date and plan a recruitment strategy. The homeless teenagers who live at Covenant House will be the first to tell you: you should NOT sleep out alone. You can join together with any group of friends, but most Student Sleep Outs are planned by existing groups: high school classes, clubs, sports teams, youth groups, Boy and Girl Scout troops, social clubs, faith communities, college fraternities and sororities, college residence hall floors, and volunteer organizations.
We recommend giving yourself 3-6 months to plan and fundraise. Click here to download an editable planning timeline.
Create a Student Sleep Out team for your group by clicking here or emailing email@example.com. Make sure that your school, team, or group name is the name of your Sleep Out team, so that your teammates and potential donors can easily find you.
Build your team. Encourage your friends, classmates, or teammates to sign up as participants on your Student Sleep Out team. Each participant will get their own fundraising page, which they can customize with a photo and bio about why they are Sleeping Out.
Note: If anyone in your group is under 18, make sure you involve a trusted adult at this point -- think faculty advisor, youth group chaperone, or team coach -- to help you navigate the rules of planning special events in your community and serve as chaperones on event night.
A Student Sleep Out is a special experience that will make everyone who participates more aware of the challenges that homeless kids deal with every day. But awareness of a problem isn’t a solution for it.
We ask everyone who participates in the Sleep Out: Student Edition to raise money for Covenant House to help homeless kids. This money will buy things like food, clothing, medicine, and blankets, and it will pay for heat and electricity in our shelters. By fundraising, everyone who participates in the Sleep Out becomes part of the solution for homeless teenagers.
1 in 45 American kids will be homeless this year. If the other 44 kids Sleep Out and collect $228 in donations, that’s enough money for Covenant House to provide a bed in one of our shelters for a full year. By raising $228 each, 44 kids can take care of 1.
Share this fundraising flyer with your fellow participants and donors to help them understand why $228 is so important.
Each participant will need a sleeping bag and a cardboard box. Choose comfortable clothing that is appropriate for extended time outdoors (wear layers!). We also suggest bringing personal toiletries and medications. A smartphone is useful, but participants should try not to bring other personal valuables or luxury bedding items, such as pillows. The expectation is that you will “sleep rough” for one night, as some homeless youth do.
If you’re not providing food and beverage at your event, we suggest having each participant pack their meals in a brown paper bag. Sandwiches, bottled beverages and other items that don't need refrigeration, heating or utensils are recommended (keeping in mind that homeless teens don't have these luxuries).
This is a question that homeless teens ask and have to answer, too. Think for a minute. What items come in large boxes? Where are those items stored or unpacked or sold or shipped? Who might you ask for those boxes? One of the activities we recommend as part of your Sleep Out is a Box Hunt. Check out the Resources page for other activities to help plan your evening, and email us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you get stuck.
If it's unsafe for you to sleep outside for any reason - including weather, because you're in a big city, or because your school/group doesn't have a yard - it's fine to sleep indoors. The purpose of a Sleep Out is for you to feel what it's like to not be able to go home to your own bed and to understand some of the discomforts that homeless kids experience.
Groups have slept out in churches, hallways, classrooms, gyms, and even basements - if you're struggling to come up with a good option, e-mail us at email@example.com and we'll help you with ideas.
While most Sleep Out donations are made through credit card gifts online, people can also donate cash or write a check. The printables section of the Resources page includes forms that can be downloaded to track single or multiple offline donations.
Event Coordinator: Alexandra Polimeni