( ENSPIRE Community Spotlight ) #AlphaDerbyWeekend Returns for the 6th Year in a Row Featuring Slick Rick as Headliner
ENSPIRE Contributor: Iris Michelsen
On the weekend of May 6-8, the Alphas of Atlanta is hosting their 6th annual #AlphaDerbyWeekend. Alphas of Atlanta is a Metro-Atlanta nonprofit composed of members from the area graduate chapters. #AlphaDerbyWeekend is a Kentucky Derby-themed destination benefit weekend, the proceeds of which are donated to nine Atlanta nonprofits that work with local elementary, middle, and high schools. Over the six years that this event has been running, this event has raised nearly $250,000 for these nonprofits.
In previous years, artists such as Doug E. Fresh, Big Daddy Kane, and Chubb Rock have performed at the event. This year, the headliner is Slick Rick, performing on Friday, May 6. The venues for this event are the College Football Hall of Fame and the Omni Atlanta Hotel at the CNN Center. #AlphaDerbyWeekend has been growing over the past few years, increasing in attendance each year as well as increasing the number of nonprofits the event supports from seven to nine. Nearly ⅓ of patrons travel from outside the state of Georgia for the sole purpose of attending this event.
ENSPIRE had the opportunity to talk with Andrew Snorton, media coordinator of #AlphaDerbyWeekend, about the event’s history, what to expect this year, and what the event means to its organizers and attendees.
AlphaDerbyWeekend will sponsor nine nonprofits in the Atlanta area; can you tell us about a few of them?
“The underlying premise of the #AlphaDerbyWeekend hosted by the Alphas of Atlanta is the support of multiple nonprofits throughout the Metro-Atlanta area. Ranging from the Sigma Eta Lambda Foundation (Loganville-Conyers, GA), RKL Education Foundation (Duluth/Gwinnett County, GA), the Pi Gamma Education Foundation (Morrow/Clayton Counties, GA), the Henry Arthur Callis Foundation (Marietta/Cobb County, GA), the Randal D. Ponder Memorial Scholarship (Stockbridge/Henry County, GA), the Alpha Atlanta Education Foundation, Inc (Atlanta/Fulton County, GA), the Charles H. Wesley Education Foundation (Decatur/DeKalb County, GA), the Omicron Phi Lambda Education Foundation (East Point/South Fulton County, GA), and the actual Alphas of Atlanta (all are 501c3 organizations), multiple community-centered programs are supported. All have components involving male-mentoring, co-ed leadership development programs, and scholarship opportunities for students to pursue their higher education dreams; through this event and the amazing patrons and supporters, this takes the adage of ‘party with a purpose’ to a different (and higher) level.”
Why does this organization focus on supporting elementary, middle, and high-schoolers?
“It all starts at home.
Nearly all of the members of the committee are involved in programming similar to the ones provided by the supported foundations for elementary, middle, and high school students. Being acutely aware of how important it is to provide access to resources, enrichment, and engagement opportunities to young people as early as possible, this programming can provide positive “launch-points” for our youth to excel in the classroom, community, and beyond. Knowing how being involved in similar programs facilitates their professional, civic, and personal development, it’s only right to not only say ‘thank-you’ to those who helped us, but to lend an encouraging and empowering hand to those in our community.”
Are there any artists performing at this year’s event?
“Yes! Building on the performance of classic hip hop artists including Doug E Fresh (2018), Big Daddy Kane, and Chubb Rock (2019), we are excited to have Slick Rick as our headliner for our Kickoff Party and Concert on Friday, May 6th. Likewise, on Saturday, May 7th, in building off the 2019 success of having We.R.Fly (the creators of the Swag Surf), we are excited to announce classic Southern hip-hop artist Crime Mob will perform (featuring their classic ‘Knuck if you Buck’).”
Nearly 1/3 of your patrons travel from out of state; what do you think inspires them to make the trip?
“It all starts with the purpose of the event. Yes, we have a fun time with a mature audience, but it’s really about the causes we support. To date, nearly $250,000 is donated, and we are sincerely excited and appreciative of the support we receive from all guests, business sponsors, and our presenting partner, Woodford Reserve (the official bourbon of the actual Kentucky Derby in Louisville, KY/Churchill Downs), as we are one of the largest events of its kind they support. When you consider the top-notch venues, events, artists, pageantry, as well as the ability to connect and reconnect with people across the country (as some of our top cities include Chicago, Washington DC, New York City, Charlotte, Orlando, Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill, Nashville, Birmingham, and even as far west as Phoenix), it truly is a destination benefit weekend event. People mark our event on their calendars, share the information with others, and provide great energy which helps us to do what we do.”
How has #AlphaDerbyWeekend changed over the years?
“For our first 2 years, it was a 2-day event. For our inaugural year (2015), we had a Friday evening meetup at the rooftop bar of our host hotel and expected 75 people to relax with us; we ended up having 300 people come. The very next day for the main event, we had 900 attend (1200 total). In 2016, we planned for 500 to attend the Friday kickoff and had 700 attend; for the main event on Saturday, we had about 1200 people (1900 total), so we knew we were onto something positive.
In 2017, we added the Sunday brunch mainly to give our guests (out of town) something to do before they departed. We expected about 350 people and ended up having 500 attend (and 2700 for the 3-day weekend). We kept a similar format for 2018 and 2019 (including having Doug E Fresh as our 2018 headline artist and Big Daddy Kane with Chubb Rock in 2019); our combined attendance for those years is approximately 7000 attendees.
During the Covid era, we did a smaller, private event in 2020, and in 2021, we decided to do a golf tournament as the outdoor setting and spacing would allow for a safer environment. After 9 days, we sold out ALL our playing slots for the golf tournament (and had more than 90 players participate).
This year’s event includes the golf tournament on May 6th (at Wolfcreek Golf Course), the kickoff party and concert featuring Slick Rick (May 6th at the College Football Hall of Fame), the main event/party on May 7th (at the College Football Hall of Fame), and our Sunday brunch at our host hotel (the Omni Atlanta on May 8th). Our golf tournament and Sunday brunch are sold out, but there are tickets available for Friday evening and Saturday afternoon’s events. Likewise, we still have sponsor opportunities available as it provides a great way to not only lend support, but branding to our audience (as again, 1/3 of our guests travel from outside the state of Georgia).
We are sincerely grateful to everyone supporting our efforts as we look forward to a great event.
We welcome you to join us in the Winner’s Circle (May 6-8, 2022) with the Alphas of Atlanta for the #AlphaDerbyWeekend!”
#AlphaDerbyWeekend offers an opportunity for attendees to come together and support education in the Atlanta community. With artists performing for attendees from all around the country, this destination benefit weekend is sure to be an unforgettable gathering. While the golf tournament and Sunday brunch are sold out, tickets are still available for the kickoff party and concert featuring Slick Rick, and the main event/party on May 7th.
Follow Alphas of Atlanta on Instagram and Twitter to hear updates about this organization. Be sure to also follow #AlphaDerbyWeekend on Instagram and Twitter. Tickets are available on the #AlphaDerbyWeekend website.