More than 100 people, including elected officials and business executives, slept — or tried to sleep — outside Sunday night in downtown Minneapolis to bring attention to youth homelessness and raise money for the nonprofit group YouthLink.

Only a slab of cardboard and a sleeping bag protected participants from the ground on the front lawn of the nonprofit on N. 12th Street. But they had a beautiful view of the downtown skyline and new appreciation for what too many youth endure.

YouthLink serves about 2,000 people up to age 24 with everything from basic needs and housing assistance to education and career support.

Last year, about 75 people slept outdoors to raise money through pledges and show their support; this year, there were about 105, said YouthLink communications manager Kathleen Smith. The event started with a tour of Nicollet Square, a supportive housing program for young people in south Minneapolis. Then it turned to the other end of the spectrum with a stop at the Salvation Army Harbor Lights Center.

Participants ranged from U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison, who was the keynote speaker at the event, to executives from 3M, the Wilder Foundation, Morgan Stanley, the Opus Group, Xcel Energy and many others.

Smith said the group hoped to raise about $250,000 with the “Night of Hope: Executive Sleep Out.”

PAT PHEIFER