Student led Sleep Outs provide an opportunity for young adults to spend time together immersing themselves in some of the problems that their peers overcoming homelessness face every day and to be part of the solution to these problems.
Sleep Out 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 youth facing homelessness they are helping. Our staff is here to help along the way with coaching, technical assistance, and materials.
Frequently Asked Questions
AM I ELIGIBLE TO PARTICIPATE IN A STUDENT SLEEP OUT?
We recommend that participants in a student led Sleep Out:
- Be current middle school, high school, or college students
- Commit to fundraising
HOW DO I START A STUDENT SLEEP OUT?
Identify an adult advisor and a student team captain to select a date and plan a recruitment strategy. The youth 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 protected] 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.
WHY DO I HAVE TO FUNDRAISE?
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 a student led Sleep Out to raise money for Covenant House to help youth facing homelessness. 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 these youth.
WHY IS MY FUNDRAISING GOAL $300?
It costs $10 to feed a Covenant House New Jersey resident three hot meals a day. By raising $300 you can feed a young person for a whole month. Help CHNJ celebrate our 30th Anniversary by feeding a young person for 30 days!
The amounts are small. The impact isn't.
$10 x 30 days = $300
WHAT SHOULD I BRING TO A SLEEP OUT?
Each participant will need a sleeping bag. 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 give up your bed 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 youth facing homelessness don't have these luxuries).
WHAT IF IT’S TOO COLD TO SLEEP OUTSIDE?
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 give up the comforts of your bed for a night in solidarity with the young people at Covenant House.
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 protected] and we'll help you with ideas.
WHAT DO I DO IF SOMEONE GIVES ME A CHECK?
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.
HOW CAN I SPREAD THE WORD ABOUT MY SLEEP OUT?
- Talk. A lot. Have conversations with the people you know best and ask them to join you.
- Post about your Sleep Out on your social networks, and use the hashtag #chsleepout to connect with the Sleep Out movement.
- Send emails. Print some posters and hang them up at your school, or pass them out at meetings. Be creative!
- Local media outlets will love what you're doing and will want to let your community know about it too. Use this sample press release to send around and spread the word.
Event Coordinator: AJ Albanese
Email: [email protected]