The Candie’s Foundation, which focuses on teen pregnancy prevention, has been re-branded as TheNext.org following its separation from Iconix Brand Group.
Neil Cole will retain his role as founder and chairman of TheNext.org. The foundation will be managed by executives Dari Marder and Maria Dolgetta, who created, launched and maintained The Candie’s Foundation under Iconix’s philanthropic umbrella begun by Cole. He and his foundation colleagues are no longer associated with Iconix.
TheNext.org will create a national dialogue, starting today — The National Day to Prevent Teen Pregnancy — with celebrity supporters and social media influencers, which will result in an estimated reach of more than 20 million people. In addition, TheNext.org will launch a platform with Big Boots, a digital studio, later this year. The Web site, thenext.org, and the social media channels including Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter will launch with the new creative.
Cole said he is organizing an advisory board comprised of experts, influencers, celebrities and real teen moms to help guide the organization’s efforts and to create original content. Maci Bookout, who appeared on the first season of MTV’s “16 and Pregnant,” will join the advisory board. Bookout’s social media platforms reach more than four million people.
Cole became involved with the teen pregnancy charity when he was in his family shoe business and it owned the Candie’s brand. “We were doing all these sexy shoes and people had different expressions of what kind of shoes they were. We were looking for a cause for the company that kind of showed young girls that just because you’re wearing sexy shoes, you shouldn’t do anything crazy, like have a baby. We found out that no other corporation was involved in it, and everyone was scared of it,” Cole said.
Since peaking in 1991, the teen pregnancy rate in the U.S. has declined by 55 percent. Still, nearly one in four teenage girls get pregnant by age 20 and the U.S. teen birth rate remains higher than in other comparable nations. Cole said that, this year, 300,000 kids will have babies.
“We just want to educate teenagers that there’s plenty of time later to have a baby. We have a unique way of doing it through celebrity,” Cole said. Over the years, the foundation has enlisted the help of celebrity supporters such as Bookout, Taylor Swift, Bruno Mars, Jenny McCarthy, Justin Timberlake, Beyoncé, Lea Michele, Hilary Duff, Bella Thorne, Fergie, Vanessa Hudgens and Usher. The foundation has made billions of media impressions with its print, TV and digital PSAs featuring such people as Bristol Palin, Ciara and Jenny McCarthy. Cole said he will continue to have events next year. Now that they’re not aligned with a corporation, they plan to get more endowments and do more fundraising. “I’ll continue personally to support it as I have over the last 15 years,” Cole said.