Since the early 1990s, Ryan Kavanaugh has made a name for himself as one of the most successful entrepreneurs in Los Angeles.
After graduating from UCLA, Kavanaugh started a venture capital firm that enjoyed early success with investments in Precash (later known as Noventus), a precursor to fintech platforms PayPal, Venmo, and Apple Pay, and ZetaRx, a groundbreaking startup founded by his father that developed therapies to treat cancer using genetically engineered lymphocytes. Simultaneously, entrepreneur Ryan Kavanaugh worked in film and television, becoming a highly recognized producer in the industry. Most recently, Kavanaugh acquired Triller, a streaming app and prime destination for content creation, music sharing, and artist discovery. He has also recently co-founded Triller Fight Night, a combat sports promotion company focused on repackaging boxing for a twenty-first-century audience.
However, Kavanaugh is not solely focused on his career but instead spends a majority of time committed to philanthropic endeavors, including medical research, anti-hate organizations, children and education, and animal welfare. Through the years, he has contributed millions to various charities and earned numerous accolades from the organizations he is involved with.
2010 Board of Governors Hollywood Humanitarian Award
In 2010, Kavanaugh received the Hollywood Humanitarian Award from the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center Board of Governors (BOG). Established in 1971, the BOG is a diverse group of donors and leaders committed to supporting the Medical Center by providing financial resources, educational experiences, and volunteer opportunities. The award was presented to Kavanaugh at the organization’s annual gala.
About Cedars-Sinai Medical Center
Cedars-Sinai Medical Center is a nonprofit academic healthcare organization based in Los Angeles. As a nationally recognized leader in healthcare, research, education and training, and community outreach, the center currently serves more than 1 million people in 40 locations.
Cedars-Sinai is also home to cutting-edge technology and facilities that support more than 1,500 research projects led by world-renowned physicians and scientists. The team works closely with local schools, clinics, government agencies, senior centers, and other organizations to improve the health status of the communities it serves.
2011 Entertainment Industry Award
In 2011, Ryan Kavanaugh received an Entertainment Industry Award from the Anti-Defamation League (ADL). This honor is given to individuals who demonstrate leadership and extraordinary innovation in the entertainment industry.
In response to the award, Kavanaugh remarked, “The Anti-Defamation League is so important to furthering a greater world consciousness and respect among races, faiths, and cultures. On a personal level, ADL’s mission is particularly special to me as it honors my grandparents’ legacy and Jewish heritage. I am humbled to be recognized by this esteemed organization and to be in such great company as ADL’s previous honorees.”
About the Anti-Defamation League
The ADL is one of the leading civil rights advocacy groups in the world. Founded in 1913, the organization has become a global leader in “exposing extremism, delivering anti-bias education, and fighting hate online.” It also advocates on behalf of Israel, lobbying the U.S. Congress in support of legislation that benefits the Jewish State. The organization’s goal is to free the world from bias, discrimination, and hate.
ADL’s headquarters in New York City is home to extensive research archives and staff members with expertise in hate groups, extremism, legal affairs, and education. Supporting them are lawyers, educators, and human relations professionals in 27 regional offices around the country. They work with a strong team of volunteers who engage in education, legislation, and advocacy on some of today’s top issues. ADL also has offices in Jerusalem and Vienna, Austria.
2014 Tom Sherak Award
In 2014, Ryan Kavanaugh received the first-ever Tom Sherak Award at the 20th annual STARS Gala, hosted by the Fulfillment Fund. Sherak, an American actor, producer, and former president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, was Kavanaugh’s mentor, both professionally and personally.
Upon receiving the award, Kavanaugh stated, “It is an honor to receive this award. Tom was one of the most important people in my life, and his wisdom and guidance impacted me in so many ways. From day one, he mentored me during the hard times and celebrated my successes. Tom’s commitment to the Fulfillment Fund was the same; he gave his all to help so many. The work the Fulfillment Fund is doing in the Los Angeles community is truly life-changing, and I am grateful to be involved with this extraordinary organization. I hope my contribution and ongoing involvement will help impact thousands of students’ lives and carry on a fraction of what Tom brought to this organization.”
About the Fulfillment Fund
The Fulfillment Fund is a nonprofit organization based in Los Angeles that is dedicated to making college a reality for students from educationally and economically under-resourced communities. Its mission is to help first-generation and lower-income students build a pathway to college, navigate educational barriers, develop life-changing support networks, and create the foundation for a secure and fulfilling future.
Founded in 1977, the Fulfillment Fund serves nearly 3,000 students annually through its college access and success programs. Currently, 100% of its high school graduates have enrolled in college, compared to 67% of students from other low-income communities, and 90% of its seniors have graduated from high school. According to the organization, “Everything we do comes down to one powerful vision: That all students, regardless of their circumstances, will one day have the opportunity to attend college, graduate, and actively participate in transforming their communities to create a better society.”
2008 Community Champion Award
In 2008, Kavanaugh’s charitable contributions were recognized by the Sheriff’s Youth Foundation of Los Angeles County when he was presented a Community Champion Award at the 23rd annual Salute to Youth banquet. He was honored for his commitment to helping inner-city youth.
About the Sheriff’s Youth Foundation
Established in 1985, the Sheriff’s Youth Foundation is a nonprofit organization that provides programming for underserved youth in Los Angeles County. Its goal is to “promote positive relationships between the Foundation and other providers of youth and/or law enforcement services, so as to develop an efficient and effective delivery of services.” The organization understands the best way to prevent crime and build safer communities is to focus on young people.
The Foundation provides at-risk youth (ages 7 to 17) with safe opportunities to grow and develop the tools they need to succeed in life. It works closely with Los Angeles County Parks and Recreation, public school districts, community groups, corporations, businesses, foundations, and interested individuals to provide programming, services, and other activities.
Through its programs, young people have an opportunity to interact with positive role models from the Sheriff’s Department and local community and participate in activities that develop leadership skills. They learn the importance of good character and self-esteem and start to formulate a positive view of the future where they are equipped to resist the negative influences of alcohol, drugs, violence, and gangs.
First Star Recognition
Kavanaugh’s dedication to improving the lives of young people, specifically survivors of abuse and neglect, has been recognized by First Star as well.
About First Star
Founded in 1999, First Star is dedicated to helping foster youth develop the academic and life skills they need to successfully transition into higher education and adulthood. It pursues its mission through “innovative, university-based college-preparatory programs, providing technical assistance to stakeholders, and advocating for policy change.” First Star offers a variety of programs that have resulted in a 99% high school graduation rate among its participants and a 91% enrollment rate in higher education.
The organization offers the country’s only long-term educational investment program for high school foster youth, including immersive residential summers on a university campus and monthly sessions during the school year.
The Art of Elysium
In addition to helping at-risk youth, Kavanaugh has donated his time and money to assist other communities in need through The Art of Elysium. Not only has he been one of the organization’s largest financial contributors, but he also served as chairman of the board of directors from 2009 to 2015.
About the Art of Elysium
The Art of Elysium is a nonprofit organization founded in 1997. It encourages working actors, artists, and musicians to voluntarily dedicate their time and talent to those battling serious medical conditions and other life challenges. They create tailor-made programs to support individuals in need by providing them with a variety of tools to help find relief, enjoyment, and self-empowerment through creative exploration and expression.
The original idea was to provide an arts program for hospitalized children. However, The Art of Elysium’s target audience quickly expanded to include teens, adults, and seniors, as well as those with social, emotional, and mental health issues and the homeless. Today, the organization offers monthly workshops in fashion, film/theater, music, and the visual arts for various individuals facing challenges, while also providing career resources for volunteer artists.
The Art of Elysium currently offers more than 100 programs every month and serves more than 30,000 annually. It also serves more than 2,500 Los Angeles artists each year.
In 2013, Kavanaugh acquired FreeHand, a premium pet food company committed to saving the lives of homeless dogs. For each pound of dog food sold, FreeHand donates an equal amount of food to a local rescue organization or animal shelter. The grain-free holistic food company was awarded a Gold Medal for its service to the health, wellness, and responsible ownership of dogs in 2012 from The Dogington Post.
At the time of the acquisition, Kavanaugh told The Hollywood Reporter, “We hope this will become a staple of Hollywood, and if you are not involved in this, then you’re not promoting social good amongst the animal world.”
Launched in 2012, FreeHand seeks to relieve the financial burden of local animal shelters by donating food. With these cost savings, shelters can focus on providing care for the animals, including vaccination, spaying and neutering, and medical treatment. To date, the company has donated more than 46,000 meals to organizations throughout Los Angeles.
FreeHand forgoes all marketing and advertising to concentrate on the manufacture of its super-premium pet food. Although the price is more than many other dog foods, it is helping dogs in need. The food donated to shelters is specifically formulated for dogs of all ages.
In addition to these charities, Kavanaugh is active in several other causes, including the following:
Dog for Dog
Founded in 2010, Dog for Dog is a high-quality dog treat and accessory company that helps dogs in need. For every sale it makes, the company donates food, products, or cash to a local or national shelter or rescue organization. To date, it has donated more than 1.4 million pounds of dog food. In addition, Dog for Dog helps raise awareness of the plight of animals in need through events such as “Dog Day Afternoons” and its reality TV series Save Our Shelters, available through Netflix.
America’s Voices in Israel
America’s Voices in Israel is a unique travel service that arranges week-long missions to Israel for journalists, social media influencers, Hollywood celebrities, ethnic and faith leaders, diplomats, sports personalities, and other high-profile opinion makers. The goal is to strengthen Israel’s reputation worldwide by encouraging travelers to share their positive first-hand experiences with a large, ethnically diverse audience. Established in 2012, this nonprofit organization provides professional development opportunities on its trips and deepens participants’ knowledge of the region.
Friends of the Israel Defense Fund
The Friends of the Israel Defense Fund (FIDF) provides educational, cultural, recreational, and social services and programs for Israeli soldiers, veterans, and their families. Established in 1981 by a group of Holocaust survivors, FIDF is a non-political, non-military organization headquartered in New York City with fifteen offices across the country. FIDF is the only organization in the United States authorized to collect charitable donations on behalf of Israeli soldiers and has consistently won praise for its accountability and transparency. It sponsors various programs and construction projects to improve the well-being of IDF soldiers and hosts several fundraising events, including concerts, mission trips, parlor meetings, and galas.
Founded in 1912, Hadassah, the Women’s Zionist Organization of America, is one of the largest nonprofit Jewish organizations globally, with more than 300,000 members in the United States. It is dedicated to preserving and promoting Jewish social and religious values throughout the country and strengthening ties between the United States and Israeli Jewish communities. Hadassah proactively addresses some of the most critical challenges women face today through education, advocacy, and youth development. In addition, it supports medical care and research that enhances the health and lives of people everywhere.
Impacting the Community
Kavanaugh’s philanthropic efforts have focused on various areas, including driving breakthroughs in life-saving medical research, combating anti-Semitism, helping children in need, promoting education, and protecting and rescuing animals. He donates his time and money to more than 50 charities, and altogether, his efforts and financial contributions add up to more than $100 million.
In addition to being recognized for his philanthropic efforts, philanthropist Ryan Kavanaugh has earned the respect and admiration of his colleagues. In 2009, he won Producer of the Year at the 13th Annual Hollywood Awards Gala and was featured as a “million-dollar producer” in a special issue of Daily Variety. In 2010, he won a Leadership Award from The Hollywood Reporter and was named one of Forbes’ 40 Under 40 Most Influential People in Business.
Always looking to improve both business and the world around him, Kavanaugh continues to recognize the importance of giving back to his community.