Frequently Asked Questions

Am I eligible to participate in a Student Sleep Out?
The eligibility requirements for Sleep Out: Student Edition vary by event. We recommend that participants in Sleep Out: Student Editions be current middle school, high school, or college students and commit to fundraising an individual goal of $228.

How do I start a Student Sleep Out?

  1. 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: classes, clubs, sports teams, youth groups, Boy and Girl Scout troops, social clubs, faith communities, fraternities, and sororities, residence hall floors, and volunteer organizations.
  2. Download and complete this editable timeline. We recommend giving yourself 3-6 months to plan and fundraise.
  3. Register a Student Sleep Out team for your group. Make sure that your school, team, or group name is in your team name so that teammates and potential donors can easily find you.
  4. 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 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.

Why is my fundraising goal $228?
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.

What should I bring to a Sleep Out?
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).

Where do I get cardboard boxes to sleep outside?
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? A box hunt is a great activity to include in your Sleep Out program. 

For more activities to help plan your evening, check out the Resources page.

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 feel what it's like to not be able to go home to your own bed and to understand some of the discomfort 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 sleepout@covenanthouse.org 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. You can also record these donations on your page in the Participant Dashboard by clicking the Donations tab.

Once you've collected a check or cash donation, please mail it to (Be sure to include your Sleep Out team name in the memo line)
Covenant House
Attn: Student Sleep Out
461 Eighth Avenue, New York, NY 10001. 

How can I spread the word about my Sleep Out?

  1. 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 #chstudentsleepout to connect with the Sleep Out movement.
  2. Send emails. Print some posters and hang them up at your school, or pass them out at meetings.
  3. 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.

Get The Word Out