By Ellen Frankman
In a fresh take on fundraising, All for the East End (AFTEE) will host its first event this week, an all-star dance party whose proceeds will go not to a single cause, but to many not-for-profits on the East End who need funds most.
On Monday, August 19, AFTEE’s Nile Rogers Dance Party will feature music by Adam Lambert, Chromeo, Russell Peters, Mystery Skulls, Prince Paul and special guest DJ Avicii. Rogers will both produce and perform at the festival, which will be held at Martha Clara Vineyards in Riverhead.
“I don’t think there has ever been a lineup quite like this on the East End,” said AFTEE founder Myron Levine.
Levine launched AFTEE in 2012 as a 501(c)(3) with the mission to support and showcase nonprofits that serve the East End. After facing a personal tragedy in the death of his son, Joshua, Levine was overwhelmed by the compassion that the community put forth in rallying around his family.
“I wanted to give back to the community, and it seemed like the perfect way to let the world know what the East End was really like,” said Levine. He also believes that nonprofits have been particularly hard hit by the recession.
AFTEE will operate as a sort of umbrella organization for other nonprofits, raising money to be deposited into a “Fund for the East End” which will then be managed by the Long Island Community Foundation (LICF). LICF, a nonprofit itself, will oversee the grant process and administer fund disbursement to participating organizations. An advisory committee consisting of one representative from each of the five East End towns will work with the staff of the LICF to review grant applications and determine which nonprofits will receive funding.
“The concept for AFTEE was to establish a new source of funding that would be accessible to any nonprofit in the five East End towns,” said Claudia Pilato , AFTEE executive board member and the director of marketing for Bridgehampton National Bank, AFTEE’s principal event sponsor. “There are so many nonprofits that add so much to the quality of life for people out here, and often the financial resources are not there.”
Both Levine and Pilato agree that the focus will be on transparency.
“There won’t be politics involved here,” said Levine. “AFTEE will have nothing whatsoever to do with parceling out that money.”
The review board and LICF will determine the allocation of funds by agreeing to a set percentage allotted to four categories: basic needs, leadership on sustainability and environmental issues, preservation and presentation of arts and culture, and educational support.
Formerly on the board of Southampton College, Levine developed the idea to raise the funds through a concert after witnessing the success of All for the Sea, an annual music festival that raised money for the college’s Marine Science Program. Upon presenting the idea to potential nonprofit beneficiaries, Levine found strong support.
“One-thousand-percent they have all been for it right from the get go,” said Levine. “There wouldn’t have been an AFTEE if that didn’t take place.”
“In this economic climate we know that donations to charities are down nationally,” said Tim Bryden, executive director of Project MOST, an East Hampton-based nonprofit that provides learning opportunities and enrichment for students after school. “All not-for-profits are trying to alleviate the hardship that certain people need. And we really hope that this event is successful.”
Bryden says that Project MOST is entirely behind AFTEE’s mission, and plans to apply for funds once the concert is complete and grant guidelines are put forth. For Project MOST, any funding received would go to keeping the organization operational.
“Project MOST continually needs money to survive,” said Bryden. “The community needs to understand that if we don’t have resources available for working parents, then the working parents are going to move on to another community and that will only be detrimental for all of us. Where will you get the services that you need? How will local businesses be able to have a workforce? The cost is going to be passed on to all of us.”
Hope Kramer, director of philanthropy for The Retreat, whose mission is to provide safety, shelter and support to victims of domestic abuse, is equally optimistic about the prospects of AFTEE and the upcoming concert.
“We are very excited about it because it is very different,” said Kramer. “It brings together a lot of businesses and sponsors in the area who really care about the nonprofits in the community but can’t fund everything individually.”
According to Kramer, an event like the AFTEE dance party will also raise awareness about local nonprofits and increase the level of access that the organizations have to the public. She says that should the Retreat be awarded grant money, it too will go to operating costs to get the organization through the remainder of the year.
“It could really help us,” said Kramer. “It will help us in the time after the summer that is not so busy.”
Levine even found support in his headliner, Nile Rogers, who has produced the likes of Madonna, Duran Duran and Diana Ross. Rogers was drawn to the project in large part because it is a proactive endeavor, and not one which calls for help only after a time of crisis.
“Nile saw this as a model for what other communities could possibly do across the country,” said Levine. “This is an organization that is looking to solve problems before they become major.”
And with over 1,000 nonprofits across the East End vying for the funds to tackle such problems, Levine believes this method of generating financial support is less competitive, offering the possibility for more widespread aid.
“If this is a success it is a way for communities to organize where the whole becomes greater than the sum of the parts.”
AFTEE has set aside 25 percent of the general admission tickets to be sold on a first-come first-served basis to residents of the East End for a discounted price of $50 per ticket. AFTEE is also offering a buy one, get one ticket free promotion for the first 500 ticket buyers for a price of $149. General admission tickets can be purchased online and printed. There will be no will-call area for general admission tickets. VIP, BNB and sponsor tickets purchased after August 13 can be picked up at will-call at the Suffolk Theater located at 118 East Main Street in Riverhead from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. on the day of the event. The parking field will open at 4 p.m. on Monday and all general admission ticket holders will be admitted at 5 p.m. East Ender Ticket Holders will enter through a separate gate and be required to show photo ID and proof of residency with a valid credit card. The concert will begin at 7 p.m. and will be followed by the AFTEE after party at 10 p.m. to be held at the Suffolk Theater.