UNICEF Next Gen Chicago Members Talk Philanthropy & Hope Gala After Party

Something that’s next generation is defined as pertaining to the next stage of development or version of a product, or service, in this case, we’re talking about the next generation of global advocates and philanthropists being groomed today. UNICEF, known globally for it’s work on behalf of vulnerable children in more than 190 countries, established their Next Gen group, which consists of “young leaders, entrepreneurs and innovators in their 20s and 30s who commit their resources, resolve and enthusiasm toward supporting UNICEF’s lifesaving work.”
We recently chatted with Chicago area next gen members Lisey Barela and Jeff Feste, co-chairs of the upcoming UNICEF Hope Gala After Party on Friday April 17, on how they got involved with the group, what to expect at the after party and more. Get to know these emerging global advocates and find out how you can win a pair of tickets to the after party.

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SOCIALIFECHICAGO: How did you both  get involved with UNICEF’s NextGen group?
Lisey Barela: When I moved back to Chicago two years ago, I knew I wanted to get involved with an organization. I had always been an advocate of UNICEF dating back to my childhood with Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF. When I found out about the NextGen group, and more specifically the Chicago Steering Committee, I was hooked.
Jeff Feste: My sister, who works for the Midwest Regional Office of the U.S. Fund for UNICEF, mentioned  NextGen to me. I did a little research and reached out to the Chair of Chicago’s Steering Committee Adam Gifford, and told him I was interested in joining.   I have been on the Steering Committee for over a year and a half now.

SLC: UNICEF’s mission has been to do “whatever it takes to save and protect the world’s most vulnerable children,” how do you think young budding philanthropists that may not have deep pockets, are able to help this mission?
LB: UNICEF’s NextGen does a great job of making philanthropy accessible. We are completely of the mindset that no donation is too small, and we can tell you exactly where your money is going. I think that all too often you contribute to a cause and are left questioning where that money is actually going. Our mission is to provide clear, tangible content as to how donating X dollars will help protect the world’s most vulnerable children and in what capacity.
JF: This is a scenario that many young people face. They want to get involved, but they might not have the financial resources to write a big check. However, this plays to our advantage. Since many do not have the means, our generation, and our board specifically, find different ways to create awareness, and still raise the necessary funds to impact change. Our After Party is a great example. The board has reached out to a number of Chicago area businesses for punchboard donations, and they have also spread the word to their network to buy tickets to the event. We are projecting to sell out the event, with 200 attendees, and receive donations from over 40 different companies. If one had the financial means to just write a check, they might not have been as active in creating awareness for our cause.

SLC: There’s a renaissance of innovation in the models of giving. How has that helped you galvanize fundraising and prospective members?
LB & JF: Technology is huge here! One of the most successful innovations launched by the U.S. Fund for UNICEF is the Tap mobile app.  The mission is simple: put down your phone to stop calling, texting, emailing, or using your phone in general. For every 15 minutes you put down your phone, you unlock a donation from sponsors that could provide clean water for an entire day for a child in need. The longer you go without touching your smartphone, the more clean water will be provided for children. It is such a simple and impactful way to donate and get involved.

SLC: What are some things UNICEF is doing that most wouldn’t realize or associate with the cause?
JF: Innovation Labs. Many people may think that UNICEF is only out providing medicine or food for those in need, but they are also giving these people the tools to spark change in their own communities. Innovation Labs allow the local people to stay connected to the world and gives them the tools to create businesses, inventions, etc. These are invaluable platforms to assist a community to learn to grow and prosper on their own.

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SLC: How often does NextGen meet? What is the commitment level?
LB: The Steering Committee has quarterly meetings, in addition to events and other organized programs. The commitment is what you put into it. We, as a Steering Committee, try to have as many programs/events as possible for the NextGen group and beyond to continue to spread awareness about the amazing efforts of UNICEF.

JF: Just like anything in life, if you want to do the bare minimum, you will get the minimum output. But, if you want to dive-in, and really affect another human being’s life, NextGen provides the tools and opportunities to do so!

SLC: Is this the first after party following the big gala the NextGen board is hosting?
This will be the 4th year! The first year of the After Party was 2012.

SLC: Since this will be the After Party to the main Gala, what can guests expect?
JF: A lot of fun can be expected by all who attend! The event starts at 9 pm, giving our guests time to show up casually late if needed, as the main Gala wraps up at 10 pm. From there, we are one big happy party. There is live music, a punchboard, and an awesome photo booth that saw a lot of action at our Masquerade Ball last fall. Additionally, our guests will be able to mingle with members of the NextGen board, the Midwest Board and UNICEF staff members, including Caryl Stern, President and CEO of the U.S.Fund for UNICEF. Many great stories and experiences are shared during this time, from field visits to Innovation Lab projects, providing our guests insight on how their contribution effects change in the lives of others.

LB: The After Party is a way to engage the next generation of people who want to be involved and support UNICEF. It will draw a younger crowd who are passionate about the cause and excited by the event. The party is super interactive with a photo booth, live band, and huge punchboard where guests can donate to receive a prize. It is always a fun time!

One lucky SociaLifeChicago reader will get to make the scene and enjoy the Hope Gala after party with Lisey, Jeff, and the other guests in attendance by wining a pair of tickets valued at ($250).

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You have one week to enter. The contest will end Monday April 13 at 3:00PM CST.
Winner will be announced the following day.

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