Ken Griffin, Chicago’s wealthiest man before relocating to Miami, was honored with The Philanthropy Roundtable’s flagship prize for philanthropists.
Ken Griffin, founder of the hedge fund firm Citadel and a nationally notable philanthropist, was recently awarded the 2022 Simon-DeVos Prize for Philanthropic Leadership during Philanthropy Roundtable’s 2022 Annual Meeting in Palm Beach, Florida. The award celebrates Griffin's extensive and timely personal giving, which already exceeds $1.5 billion.
Griffin's award comes in the wake of some of his greatest efforts, both as a philanthropist and as a businessman, to protect and advance society over the course of the Covid-19 pandemic. While many leaders were initially paralyzed by the wide-ranging repercussions of the pandemic, Griffin leapt into action from its very start: as international borders closed, Griffin mobilized his connections—including former U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo—to secure enough planes to bring Americans home safely.
Throughout the crisis, Griffin continued to assist in producing quick solutions to intimidating new problems, contributing $50 million to vaccine development, food security programs, and initiatives promoting remote learning equity. Griffin and his team at Citadel also played a key role in the success of Operation Warp Speed, developing the idea of pre-purchasing newly developed Covid-19 vaccines and antivirals to accelerate their time to market.
“We [at Citadel] were among the earliest private funders of international vaccine development efforts and supported important research in the early months of the pandemic across academic and medical institutions,” Griffin noted. “I’m really indebted to my team for having come up with the idea for a strategy that has so impacted our country for the better.”
Griffin’s outcomes-oriented investments in society’s betterment extend far beyond the Covid-19 pandemic. Improving educational opportunities has been a longstanding theme in his philanthropy. From funding high-impact tutoring and inner-city charter school networks to STEM programs and need-based financial aid at his alma mater, Harvard University (including making their largest gift in history in 2014), Griffin has been extremely generous in strengthening education and increasing access.
Griffin has also shown a longstanding commitment to bettering life in Citadel’s decades-long home, Chicago, and its new headquarters, Miami, where he has invested in everything from crime reduction programs and local cultural institutions to public park and beautification projects.
In addition to celebrating Griffin’s thoughtfully directed charity, the 2022 Simon-Devos Prize also honors the memory of two recently deceased philanthropic giants, Richard DeVos Sr. and William E. Simon.
“Our late father used to say that businessmen should give away their money as carefully as they invest their personal wealth, with decisions based on solid data rather than good intentions,” said Bill Simon, Jr., co-chairman of the William E. Simon Foundation. “Ken Griffin exemplifies just this kind of thoughtful giving, and I know Dad would be delighted to have their names linked through the Simon-DeVos Prize.”
In recognition of his philanthropic achievements, Griffin will receive a $200,000 award, payable to the charity of his choice.