Frequently Asked Questions
Are you pretending to be homeless?
No, Sleep Out is not about pretending to be homeless. We could never replicate the experience of a young person who has been left with nowhere to go, nor would we want to. That’s not the point.
When you let your friends and family know that you’re giving up your bed for the night, you’re going to get their attention. Once they’re paying attention, you can tell them about the often-ignored youth homelessness crisis (you can find talking points, sample messages, and stories in our Fundraising Toolkit). And you can offer them an immediate way to help: by making a donation to Covenant House in support of your Sleep Out, they help to ensure that young people across the United States, Latin America, and Canada have a safe place to sleep tonight and every night.
Sleep Out is also a learning experience. We provide you with a virtual program, activity ideas, stories, and articles so you can deepen your understanding of the fight to end youth homelessness. Our morning reflection guide is an especially important tool, because it helps you unpack your experience you had and put it into context with those of our young people.
How does Sleep Out actually help youth facing homelessness?
Tonight, about 2,300 young people overcoming homelessness will sleep under a Covenant House roof. Every dollar raised through Sleep Out goes directly to shelter, support, and care for these young people. These critical funds ensure that our doors stay open 24/7 in 34 cities across the United States, Latin America, and Canada for every young person who needs a safe place to sleep. Learn more.
How do I start or find a Sleep Out team?
Sign up here to create a Sleep Out team. Search here for an existing Sleep Out team and search here for existing individual Sleepers.
After you sign up, you’ll receive emails prompting you with next steps. You can also find a guide by group type here.
I want to Sleep Out with groups in different cities (e.g. company offices). How should I get set up?
There are two ways you can do this:
1. Create a single team page. This is a great option if your Sleepers are participating primarily from home, if you want everyone to be on the same fundraising leaderboard, or to receive all communications from one central captain.
2. Create a team page for each city. This is a great option if you have a captain in each city willing to organize a local team or if there will be events or activities specific to each location. Sleepers will sign up as part of their local team page and you can email [email protected] for support reporting on progress in all cities.
Can I join an existing Sleep Out?
Here is a list of upcoming Sleep Out events. If there isn’t a Sleep Out near you, the date doesn’t work, or the eligibility requirements (e.g. age, fundraising minimums) prohibit you from joining, you can Sleep Out from anywhere at any time by signing up here.
I don’t have a safe and legal place to sleep outside. Can I still participate?
Yes! While you should only Sleep Out somewhere that is safe and legal, it doesn’t have to be outside. You can create a meaningful experience from home by giving up your bed and sleeping on the floor. We suggest considering what other comforts you can give up as part of your act of solidarity (e.g. pillows, pajamas, a phone charger, extra blankets).
Can I Sleep Out with my kids?
Yes! Sleep Out is a great activity to do as a family. Here is a guide on how to make your family’s experience meaningful.
What happens during Sleep Out?
You can follow this Sleep Out program, which includes videos, stories, and activity ideas, to make your night meaningful. You can also customize the program to work for your Sleep Out, picking and choosing the pieces that make sense for you or your group.
Why do I have to fundraise? And where does the money go?
Sleep Out is first and foremost a fundraising event. While giving up your bed for a night can be an act of solidarity in and of itself, awareness and symbols can’t solve youth homelessness on their own. Fundraising is the way you make an immediate impact.
Funds raised through Sleep Out benefit Covenant House, a non-profit organization providing shelter and essential services to young people facing homelessness across the United States, Latin America, and Canada. The money goes towards providing safe beds, warm meals, clean clothes, and services like GED classes, job training programs, legal aid, and mental health care that help young people achieve independence. Learn more.
Can I Sleep Out and give the funds to another person or organization?
We are so happy to hear that you are interested in supporting people facing homelessness. Sleep Out is an event specific to Covenant House, and we cannot disburse funds to other organizations or individuals. All funds raised directly support Covenant House’s work to shelter and care for youth facing homelessness.
If you’re looking to partner with a local non-profit organization during your Sleep Out, we suggest making a clothing or food donation drive part of your program. You should reach out to the organization in advance to confirm you’re only collecting items that are needed.
Still have a question? Reach out to our team at [email protected].