Chapter 1: What is the CEO Sleepout 2012?

Did you know that in September over 40 CEO will be raising awareness, raising money and spending a night on the street in support of homelessness initiatives in Winnipeg?

Now you do!

The CEO Sleepout 2012 (organized by the Downtown Winnipeg BIZ and their Change for the Better Campaign) is in its second year and is committed to engaging the business community and the general public in a meaningful initiative that will bring much needed attention to the issue of homelessness in Winnipeg. Last year, they raised $94,000 that went to employment programs with Siloam Mission, Red Road Lodge & Graffiti Art Programming.

I recently was able to connect with a few CEOs and the infamous @DownTownJason to learn more about this initiative. i learned about how 100% of funds raised go towards supporting employment initatives for homeless folks. One thing that got me excited was the downtown Winnipeg walks its talk by hiring local folks, with many struggling with this issue of homelessness. I was encouraged by Jason’s passion for wanting to engage many creative/diverse aspects of our community together to make this a meaningful experience. Somewhere along the way, I was recruited to being a part of raising awareness about this event. Check out the CEO Sleepout official page here:

I have done some homework. Many people are critical of this sleepout. But I ask you this: would you rather these 40+ individuals stay home and do nothing? What would you prefer for these CEOs to do instead? I have checked out many people that are not supportive of this initiative, and to those of you reading this who are not supportive, I welcome your recomendations and suggestions as to how we can make this a meaningful eye opening opportunity to get these influential business folks to join OUR movement.

If you are reading this post, it must mean you have some interest in the work that I do. I am honest and am becoming a part of this initiative because I know personally how beneficial the results were of last year’s Sleepout. I personally know Stuido393 (from GAP), Red Road & Siloam do necessary and important work in our community. I am going to work cooperatively with whoever shares this goal; get Winnipeg to stand up to homelessness!


I cannot raise money, as I am struggling financially enough on my own. But I can raise awareness and share my own time and thoughts on how we can make this event acheive its goals. I will be attending the sleepout. I will be sharing all of the suggestions that I receive with organizers of the event. Look at the details below:

When: September 27, 2012 (7pm – overnight)
Where: 201 Portage Avenue

The 2012 CEO Sleepout Goals:

(1) Educate
– Engage business community and downtown residents to raise awareness about the possible solutions to ending homelessness, such as supportive housing and employment
– Raise awareness about Change for the Better, a program that supports homeless employment programs

(2) Mobilize
– Host an event that brings together community leaders and members of the corporate community together to lend their voice to important issues, such as homelessness, poverty, and employment, social issues that affect many people in our downtown and in our city today
– Work with organizations like the Winnipeg Poverty Reduction Council (WPRC) to help influence policy-making
– Punctuate these important issues to media and the public

(3) Fundraise
– Inspire and challenge our downtown partners to fundraise and donate to the Change for the Better program, a program that supports programs like Siloam Mission’s MOST: Mission Off the Streets Team

But Wait! There’s More!

I have asked my social media friends what they think of this, and while many think it is silly, many have given me some concrete suggestions about what they would like to see. I am also working with 2 of the CEOs personally on another awareness/experience where we can kick things up a notch.

Stay tuned for

Chapter 2: Suggested Activities at the CEO Sleepout

& Chapter 3: MC, Bowman & Young say “we can do more!”


7 thoughts on “Chapter 1: What is the CEO Sleepout 2012?

  1. You have set up a straw man argument here Michael and with respect it must be challenged. Who suggested the CEO’s “do nothing”? Nobody, only you in setting up a false argument. The criticisms of people like Graham Hnatiuk and Ethan Cable are well founded and your framing a reply to them in that manner is dishonest.

    The degree of free publicity focused on the CEO’s, in particular on the media participants and their friends, borders on the obscene. The value of the back-patting publicity about themselves ie the Free Press FAR exceeded the money raised in dollar value last year. It was a PR exercise and some took part to sanitize their public image, and the Biz has the nerve to deny it while dishing up pizza and dessert and having guards shoo away onlookers.

    1. Hi Marty. Thanks for your comments, I always appreciate being challenged/corrected.
      Please know it was not my intention to set up a straw argument, but to address a criticism before it is presented. I realize that my response in regards to CEO’s ‘doing nothing’ was not the appropriate tone. It was not an intentional act of dishonesty and with humility, I stand corrected.
      Thank you for your comments about the way media handles the situation as well. As a new supporter of this initiative, I signed on with the understanding that I would be listening to criticism and sharing those points with the organizers.
      In that regard though, I think we may need to address a larger problem of media principles here though, because in my own personal experiences with media, I often find them unable to report a story as factual, but always needing to come up with a ‘twist’. Also, the unwaivering emphasis on finding an individual to focus on, as opposed to the accomplishments of groups of people, or the causes they represent. I may choose to discuss The Media & the homeless in a seperate blog post, for that very reason.
      Finally, more info will be available in the coming weeks as to what the CEOs will be doing. As soon as I get information on it I will be sure to share it.
      Thanks for your comments!

  2. I would rather see these 40+ individuals cut a cheque to help the homeless rather than beg the working poor to give away what little they have when these CEOs make ten times that.

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