Party.0 picks up steam with fundraising

Jessica Johnson

Party.0, an organization dedicated to helping college students across the nation host sober parties, launched a crowdfunding campaign on Sept. 6 to support its upcoming national tour.
“We raised over 30 percent within 24 hours,” Jake White, Party.0 executive director and University of Wisconsin Oshkosh alumni, said. “That is a really successful launch, and I feel confident we are going to hit our goal.”
As of Wednesday, September 14, the crowdfunding campaign has raised over $4,000.
According to White, the goal for the crowdfunding campaign is to raise $10,000, ensuring members of the Party.0 team can get where they need to go while on tour in February 2017. Before the launch, Party.0 raised $25,000, but the group needs $35,000 to cover all the basics. The crowdfunding campaign will be open for donations until Oct 11.
The Party.0 concept was started in 2012 at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh by co-founders Jake White and Steve Vanevenhoven, who wanted to create an alternative party scene where students could party without drugs or alcohol.
White said Party.0 gained momentum in Oshkosh, and then spread to the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse and to St. Norbert College in De Pere, Wisconsin.
“These were our pilot programs,” he said. “Before we officially launched as a movement, we had to make sure it worked on various campuses. We have had interest from other campuses, but we didn’t have the resources to say yes, so we had to think of something to do, which is how the national tour came about.”
The tour will visit 47 campuses across the nation, spending a week at each school, training students how start their own Party.0 program. According to White, by the time the tour is over, an expanding team of student leaders will have hosted 312 sober parties.
Semester 1 will go from February 2017 to May 2017 and the team will travel through Mid-America, Semester 2 will go from August 2017 to December 2017 and they will be on the East Coast and Semester 3 will go from February 2018 to May 2018 and they will be on the West Coast.
White said it is an unbelievable feeling to take what he has started at a local level and spread the Party.0 platform to colleges across the country.
“It is great to see so many people backing us up as we gear up for our tour and supporting our cause,” White said. “Students, parents and even professionals in the field believe in what we are doing and want to see us succeed.”
Becca Brown, co-founder of Party.0 chapter at St. Norbert College, said she is excited Party.0 is going on a national tour because she believes drinking at universities is a problem, and wants see all universities have an alcohol alternative program.
“[Party.0] is going to be a movement,” she said. “It is going to be our generation’s movement and something people can get excited about because people want a place to go to without all the pressure of drinking, even just for a night. I believe this is our generation’s thing that we can hold onto and say we were able to change the typical party lifestyle.”
White said Party.0 is easy and sustainable to run on a campus, and would like to see it expand at a rapid rate.
“Students reach out to us from all over the country, but we don’t have the funding to help them, so this national tour is a way to collect funding, make an impact across the nation, spread the word in an impactful way and generate some buzz that we are ready and able to help students host sober parties at their colleges,” White said.
Alexander Ramsey, who will be traveling on the Party.0 tour, said this tour is important because many college students around the nation feel pressured to drink or go out to parties.
“I think Party.0 is really challenging the typical college party lifestyle and is breaking away from the social norms,” Ramsey said. “Party.0 doesn’t think drinking is bad, basically it is saying there is an alternative, and if you don’t want to drink, you can do something else, you don’t have to be stuck or follow what everyone else is doing.”
While on tour, members of the Party.0 team will help train student leaders how to plan, promote and host sober parties.
White said a Party.0 training session for a campus group involves teaching students how to build a list of who to invite to parties, helping them find local sponsors, teaching them how to write sample press releases and finding supplies for the parties. They will also help with community support, how to fund for future parties and how to build campus partnerships.
“After we teach these areas, we move on to the two most important items, how to find a venue and how to host,” White said. “Finding a venue is the second hardest thing after finding student leaders, and it is important to find partners who will allow you to use their house a few times a year. The last thing is throwing the event, and that is actually one of the easiest things to do because once you get all of these people in one room, fun just happens.”
White said the most important thing he hopes to get out of the tour is establishing Party.0 as a national platform.
“The message we really want to share with students is if you are on your campus and you are feeling like the only person who doesn’t drink and you’ve got no friends and nothing to do, you’re wrong, because there are hundreds, if not thousands, of students on your campus who are looking for something like Party.0 and it isn’t there yet, but you can be the person to bring it to your campus just by asking help from us,” White said.
White said in addition to the tour, Party.0 will be hosting a conference in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, in summer 2017, for those who weren’t able to be a part of the tour, but still want to learn how to run a successful program on their campus.
Ramsey said he hopes Party.0 will start a spark across the nation.
“I see Party.0 beyond the fact it is a simple party that doesn’t have alcohol,” Ramsey said. “I see it as a way to challenge social norms, but also try and build a better student generation, one where people don’t have to go out and get drunk because that is what is expected. I see Party.0 as something that is revolutionary, and I hope it can be this spark of change that people will gravitate towards.”