About the Sleepout
“Sleeping out certainly gave me an appreciation for how much opportunity we can extend to the homeless, to those who are underemployed or unemployed. We can do more, we need to do more, and this is a great beginning.”
-Rob Johnston, RBC, Regional President
In 1992, the Downtown BIZ founded its Change for the Better program. Since its inception, the program has raised over $354,000 in donations. In 2011, the BIZ organized the first-ever CEO Sleepout in Canada, which brought together CEOs, community leaders, and media representatives, to raise awareness about homelessness. These participants also raised over $100,000 for Change for the Better and homeless employment programs. This event gained international media coverage, and has set in motion momentum towards creating a 10-year plan to end homelessness, with support from the private sector.
In 2012, the BIZ awarded Siloam Mission, Red Road Lodge, and Graffiti Art Programming Inc. with these funds – and also hosted the 2nd annual CEO Sleepout, raising over $119,000.
In 2013, the Sleepout took place again, with a record 100 CEOs and community leaders taking part, and a new record of over $200,000 in donations.
The CEO Sleepout aims to inform, discuss, and engage with the downtown business community on homelessness and poverty issues, while financially supporting work programs for our city’s most vulnerable.
- Educate the business community about the solutions to ending homelessness, such as supportive housing and employment.
- Host the Change for the Better CEO Sleepout – to engage and educate the business community, and to fundraise for homeless employment programs.
- Work with organizations like the WPRC to help influence policy regarding homelessness.