A Letter of Gratitude from Ian
To our appreciated community of supporters, donors and team members,
Can you believe it has been A DECADE! Over 10 years ago, I had the dream to help forge a new path to make a lasting positive impact. An impact on those who were underserved, by empowering human action through global hands-on and digital programs and collaborations that engaged education, innovation and community-led initiatives. An impact that provided support for organizational and grassroots efforts that protected and restored our environment, cared for our neglected and exploited creatures and, most importantly, uplifted and supported youth – our most powerful, yet often disregarded, generation yet. I have been fortunate enough to get to see that dream come to life with the Ian Somerhalder Foundation.
Since 2010, our mission has been to empower, educate and collaborate with people and projects to positively impact the planet and its creatures. All of us - from long-time supporters to generous donors and passionate team members - together, we have done exactly that. ISF has become world-renowned for its change-making voice in the nonprofit space and for its engaging programs, services, and grants including the Emergency Medical Care Grants for Animals, Water and Community Cleanups, Youth Volunteer Days, Community Crews, Youth Volunteers, Spay/Neuter Clinics, College Advisory Board and Education Programs, worldwide social media movements, and so so so many more incredible initiatives.
I love thinking back on the years and some of my favorite campaigns, grants, events, collaborations, support and projects - like Beyond Coal, Let’s Get Dirty, the grant for the beehive fence project to help prevent human/elephant conflict in Tanzania, “I Did It”, United Nations Environment Programme, Giving Tuesday, Graziela for ISF, Mardi Paws, Generation Extinction, Mutts to Models, Conventions and ISF Booths, Top Rags of America, grant to help youth in foster care through Kids In the Spotlight, our Youth Passion Projects, Empoweresque, Litterless Lunches, Organic Gardening Project, #Time4TheTalk, #JoinTheHerd, OMAZE, Girls Impact The World/ConnectHER Film Festival, [U]Factor, #ISFEarthHour, DivestInvest, Remember Me Thursday, the grants to help the horses of Nevada’s Virginia Range wild and free, #WildForLife, ISF Spay and Neuter Clinics, #ISF4Oceans, #putapriceonit, Kids Army, youth-led cleanups in Flint, Michigan, CatCon, all of our co-ventures, the bat research grant, Green Your Mind, Youth Volunteer Days, the grant to help fight the environmental hazards of oil shale fracking, Changemakers Series, #ISFCleanups, and #KnowTomorrow and, of course, our thousands of Emergency Medical Grant Program grantees such as Pippin the mini horse, Skippy the dog, Donald Duck the donkey, Riptide the sea turtle, Little Bug the sea lion, Leo the lion, Lucky the cat.
I am full of immense gratitude for the past decade and the lessons it has taught us all in so many important things like dedication, compassion, giving, camaraderie, purpose, passionate work, family, kindness, perseverance, empathy, leadership, humility and strength. We are thankful for the impact we made together through this decade and, as we all grow and expand onto new paths, as a team at ISF we have made the decision to transition out of the nonprofit space and wind down to complete the journey of our foundation and dissolve in 2021. Although the Ian Somerhalder Foundation will come to an end, it will not be the end of our story and I know that the astounding impact we made together will be felt through this generation of youth and for generations to come.
Collaboration has always been at the core of our mission and it is this integral collective spirit that will carry on the legacy of ISF. We have chosen to continue that spirit of collaboration to amplify and elevate several change-making organizations around us by enthusiastically planning to distribute our assets to 15 like-minded 501(c)3 organizations that we thoughtfully and purposefully chose as a beautiful blend of causes ISF has worked so hard to support within our mission. These organizations are focused in fields such as global climate research and regenerative agriculture, critical habitat conservation and preservation, bold and diverse youth education, amplification and empowerment, and boots-on-the-ground animal rescue and rehabilitation efforts.
I am dedicating these grants to every single one of you who has supported ISF along this journey. After a worldwide tumultuous 2020/2021, we feel that these funds will be going to well-deserved, impactful projects and people whose scope far exceeds what we can do individually and who we believe will make the monumental change that is so desperately needed. We are so excited to announce this list to all of you here first and hope you continue to follow and support these orgs for years to come and feel like you are a part of their projects through the legacy of ISF. Click below to view each website and learn about the incredible missions and work of each organization.
In May I was thrilled to announce that, in our first beautiful collaboration, the Ian Somerhalder Foundation gave a $1 Million Grant to the esteemed and honorable Dr. Goodall and the Jane Goodall Institute! They shared with us that this money will provide transformative support for the Jane Goodall Institute (JGI) programs to protect the natural world we share and improve the wellbeing of people, other animals, and essential ecosystems around the world. Through this investment, the Jane Goodall Institute will be able to expand and deepen its programs, which innovate through Jane’s visionary approaches to the renowned global youth empowerment program Roots and Shoots, community-led great ape conservation, habitat protection, restoration and regeneration, progressive animal welfare and sanctuary care, world-changing advocacy and climate action.
To be able to support at this capacity and this level of reach, especially with JGI, is our dream come true. This goes back to the beginning of ISF and what we spoke about for the future. A future in which organizations support each other to accomplish the necessary shared actions and missions of good to tackle the greatest problems of our world. Empower, Educate and COLLABORATE– that has always been our mission. We've realized that a better and even more powerful approach is empowering others in THEIR missions and programs. To us, the Jane Goodall Institute seemed like the best fit to support and we are thrilled to watch what they will do next. Jane, you're our hero!!! Everyone watch our video and please please please go follow the work of JGI with us! You can watch our video together here.
Also, we are excited to include that earlier in 2021, ISF gave a much-needed $25,000 grant to The Little Farm - a farm rescue dedicated to helping creatures who need it most. They shared with us that the funds are planned to go towards the building of two very essential barns. A horse barn to safely house all 16 of their horses and donkeys and a second barn that will house their 50 sheep, goats, and alpacas. What a magical place for these creatures!
As a team at ISF, we have worked very hard to raise this kind of money to support others. We are humbled and grateful for the ability and opportunity to be in a position to help others who do such great work. We are thrilled and honored to watch and be a part of what they all will do next for creatures, the environment and for our future generations. The missions of these organizations are aligned with the heart of ISF, and we are confident that our kind and generous supporters will be excited about our decision to distribute our assets to them to further their causes. Stay tuned to read more about each of these grants and organizations on our website in the coming months.
From the catastrophe of an oil spill, a vision to make a difference was born. My heart was called to start ISF and it has been the most incredible 10 years making a positive impact on the planet and its creatures with you. I can’t wait for you to see what comes next in my other ventures - because helping our youth, our creatures and our planet will always be who I am and at the forefront of what I do.
THANK YOU for your years, your spirit, your giving and your kindness. Because of people like YOU, this was all possible!
Our sincerest gratitude,
Ian and The ISF Team
Photo thanks to Glass Jar Photography