600 turn out to support Federation and celebrate the launch of NEXTGen Detroit.

The MGM Grand ballroom was filled with 600 young Jewish Detroiters for the EPIC Event. (Photos by Jerry Zolynski)

The March 10 EPIC Event at the MGM Grand Hotel in Detroit did indeed live up to its epic expectations. This first annual fundraising event, which formally launched Federation’s NEXTGen Detroit, was sold out almost a week in advance and ended up attracting close to 600 people.

Attendees consisted of active and new participants in Federation’s NEXTGen programming, mainly in the 21- to 45-year-old demographic, as well as Federation professional and lay leaders.

Although some follow-up is still in progress, so far the event raised more than $151,000; this includes 200 new donors to the 2012 Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit Annual Campaign. This number also reflects a 53 percent card-for-card increase over donations from this group from 2011.

Comedy Central regular Jeffrey Ross produced plenty of laughs and roasted members of the audience who voluntarily went up on stage. He then stayed the rest of the evening for the EPIC After Dark community party and danced the night away with NEXTGen Detroiters.

Event co-chairs Matthew Ran of Bloomfield Hills and Leah Bold of Royal Oak flank comedian Jeffrey Ross.

Efforts of young leadership task force members — led by event co-chairs Leah Bold and Matthew Ran, and YAD 2012 Campaign co-chairs Rachel Wright and Steve Migliore — together with the Federation team made the event happen. “This event was truly a game changer for the future,” Wright says. “A clear, vibrant tone was set loud enough — and you can feel it days later. Our Detroit Jewish NEXTGen community is making things happen and is determined to see a successful future. What EPIC did was bring together the excitement, energy and passion of more than 600 people with this same vision.”

Migliore says, “The EPIC Event is a fantastic example of what our community can accomplish when we work together. It was a total team effort. To me, the success of the event is a strong statement that we as a community are heading in the right direction and that the NEXTGen demographic is not only willing to be involved and engaged, but also willing to support our Jewish community by investing in Federation’s Annual Campaign. The feedback I received was overwhelmingly positive, and the most common sentiments I heard were a sense of excitement about where we are going and a sense of pride in what the EPIC Event accomplished.”

Bold says, “When you use a word like EPIC you have to live up to it, and we took every detail into account to make sure our first event was not only EPIC, but would also create a buzz that would keep people engaged. The food was delicious. The lighting was beautiful. The entertainment was hilarious and our message worked. We launched a new campaign, brought new faces to the crowd and increased our donors. It feels great to be a part of this powerful community that is making change.” Josh Levine, YAD president, says, “The EPIC event was beyond description and exceeded all of our expectations. Most importantly, however, is that this represents that we as a community are committed to the importance of changing the way we do business on how we engage the young adult demographic. We’ve talked about it for a while, and now we are walking the walk. We are taking meaningful action to effect change and EPIC proves that it’s working.”

Marty Maddin, incoming NEXTGen Detroit president, says, “The EPIC Event was an absolute home run, and further proof that young Jewish Detroit is alive and full of possibility. The sold-out event was a perfect mix of bar night, camp reunion and fundraiser and left people wanting more. Tapping into this energy and engagement is exactly what NEXTGen is about.”

The event also featured the new NEXTGen campaign video.