10 Philanthropists Making A Difference in Las Vegas

Las Vegas is often considered a city of excess and indulgence, with its glamorous casinos and neon lights. However, beneath the surface lies a thriving community of philanthropists dedicated to giving back and positively impacting the city. From supporting education and healthcare initiatives to investing in the arts and culture, these philanthropists have made a significant difference in the lives of countless people in Las Vegas. Their inspiring stories serve as a reminder that even a city known for its extravagance, kindness and generosity can make all the difference. In this blog, we will explore some of the most prominent Las Vegas philanthropists and their contributions to the community.

Miriam and Sheldon Adelson

Miriam and Sheldon Adelson are prominent philanthropists from Las Vegas, Nevada. The Adelsons have been known for their charitable giving, particularly in medical research, education, and support for Jewish causes. They established the Adelson Family Foundation in 2007, which provides funding for various charitable initiatives. The foundation has made substantial contributions to researching and treating conditions such as multiple sclerosis and cancer. The Adelsons are also dedicated to supporting the education of young people and have donated millions of dollars to schools, colleges, and universities. In addition, they have been strong supporters of the State of Israel. They have made significant contributions to organizations working to strengthen the Jewish state and improve the lives of Israelis.

Miriam and Sheldon Adelson

(Image Wikipedia Commons' GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2)

Tony Hsieh

Tony Hsieh was a prominent philanthropist who significantly impacted the downtown area of Las Vegas. Hsieh was the former CEO of Zappos, an online shoe and clothing retailer, which Amazon acquired in 2009. He was known for his innovative approach to business and his dedication to improving the lives of others. Hsieh invested heavily in revitalizing downtown Las Vegas, creating a hub for technology startups, small businesses, and residential development. He co-founded the Downtown Project to develop a sense of community and promote urban revitalization. Through this project, Hsieh invested $350 million in the development of coworking spaces, art galleries, restaurants, and others, revitalizing the downtown area of Las Vegas and transforming it from a rundown and neglected area into a thriving community. He was also instrumental in launching the Life is Beautiful festival, a three-day event that celebrates art, music, and culture in downtown Las Vegas. Hsieh believed in the power of community and worked tirelessly to create a sense of belonging and connection in Las Vegas. His legacy in Las Vegas is one of transformation and inspiration, leaving a lasting impact on the city and the people who live there.

Tony Hsieh

(Image Wikipedia Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license)

Elaine Wynn

Elaine Wynn co-founded Wynn Resorts, a luxury hotel and casino brand, and has used her wealth and influence to give back to the community. Elaine has supported organizations in education, arts, culture, and health. Her philanthropic work includes serving as the founding chair of the Nevada State Board of Education, co-founding the Communities in Schools of Nevada, and serving on the board of directors for several nonprofit organizations. Elaine Wynn has also donated significant funds to the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, to establish the Elaine Wynn Studio for Arts Education and the Elaine Wynn Soccer Complex. Elaine's generosity and philanthropic spirit have positively impacted many lives in Las Vegas and beyond, and she continues to inspire others in the community.

Elaine Wynn

(Las Vegas Review Journal)

Frank Fertitta III

Frank Fertitta III, the former CEO of Station Casinos and former owner of the UFC, has been a major philanthropic force in Las Vegas for many years. Fertitta has made significant contributions to various causes in the city, including education, health care, and the arts. He has been a strong supporter of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV), providing generous donations to the university's athletic program and the UNLV School of Medicine. Fertitta has also significantly contributed to the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health. This world-renowned research center focuses on studying and treating Alzheimer's disease and other neurodegenerative disorders. Additionally, Fertitta has supported the arts in Las Vegas, providing funding for organizations such as the Smith Center for the Performing Arts.

Lorenzo Fertitta

Lorenzo Fertitta, the former CEO of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), has also been a significant philanthropic force in Las Vegas. Fertitta has contributed to many causes in the city, including education, health care, and sports. He has generously supported the Boys and Girls Club of Southern Nevada, providing funds for the organization's programs and facilities. Fertitta has also significantly contributed to the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, funding scholarships, facilities, and athletic programs. In addition to his philanthropic efforts in Las Vegas, Fertitta has been involved in numerous charitable initiatives at the national level, including supporting the Make-A-Wish Foundation and the Andre Agassi Foundation for Education.

Lorenzo Fertitta & Frank Fertitta III

(Brian Smith)

Andre Agassi

Andre Agassi, a former tennis champion, has been a significant philanthropic force in Las Vegas for many years. Agassi established the Andre Agassi Foundation for Education in 1994, which aims to improve education for underserved youth in Las Vegas. The foundation has created innovative programs, such as the Andre Agassi College Preparatory Academy, a public charter school that provides a rigorous education to students in grades K-12. Agassi has also supported other education-related initiatives in Las Vegas, such as Teach for America and the UNLV Foundation. In addition to education, Agassi has contributed to the Andre Agassi Boys and Girls Club, which provides after-school programs for children in underserved communities.

Andre Agassi

(Image Wikipedia Commons' GNU Free Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license

Phil Ruffin

Phil Ruffin has contributed to causes supporting education, health care, and the arts in Las Vegas. He has made generous donations to the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV), supporting the university's athletic programs and the UNLV School of Medicine. Ruffin has also contributed to healthcare initiatives in Las Vegas, providing funding to the Sunrise Hospital and Medical Center. Additionally, he has supported the arts, providing funding for the Las Vegas Philharmonic and the Smith Center for the Performing Arts. Ruffin has also supported the Boys and Girls Club of Southern Nevada, contributing funds to help the organization provide services to needy children.

James and Catherine Cook

James and Catherine Cook founded a travel agency called Ambassador Travel in the 1970s, which grew to become one of the largest privately-owned travel agencies in the United States. In 1997, the Cooks sold Ambassador Travel to American Express for an undisclosed amount, which reportedly exceeded $100 million. Following the sale of their company, the Cooks have supported education in Las Vegas, providing funding for scholarships and programs at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV). They have also been major supporters of the Smith Center for the Performing Arts, providing funding for its construction and ongoing operations. Additionally, the Cooks have contributed to medical research in Las Vegas, providing funds to the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health. The couple has also supported social services organizations in the city, such as the Salvation Army and Catholic Charities of Southern Nevada.

Jan Jones Blackhurst

Jan Jones Blackhurst, a former mayor of Las Vegas, has been a champion for women's causes, advocating for issues such as gender equality and reproductive rights. Blackhurst's philanthropic efforts have been recognized with numerous awards, including the Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce's Community Achievement Award and the Women's Chamber of Commerce Athena Award. Blackhurst has also contributed to social services organizations in the city, such as the Shade Tree Shelter for homeless women and children and Three Square, a food bank serving southern Nevada. Additionally, Blackhurst has supported education initiatives in Las Vegas, contributing funds to the UNLV Foundation and the College of Southern Nevada Foundation. She also has a Las Vegas elementary school named after her.

Jan Jones Blackhurst

(Jan Jones Blackhurst Elementry)

Cindy Ellis

Cindy Ellis is a prominent philanthropist and businesswoman from Las Vegas, Nevada. Ellis and her husband are co-owners of numerous local businesses, including Ellis Island Hotel and Casino, the Village Pub Taverns, and Mt. Charleston Lodge. Upon her retirement from the hospitality industry, she devoted her time to bettering the Las Vegas community through her charitable passions.

Cindy is known for her generosity and commitment to supporting organizations that create sustainable change, especially for at-risk populations. According to Vegas Inc,, Ellis is a member and past president of Nevada Women’s Philanthropy and sits on the boards of the Candlelighters Foundation, Girl Scouts of Southern Nevada, and The Smith Center for the Performing Arts. She co-chairs The Greater Good Council and the Philanthropy Leaders Summit and is on the Advisory Committee of Mayor Carolyn Goodman’s Fund for Las Vegas LIFE.

Las Vegas is fortunate to have a vibrant community of philanthropists who are dedicated to making a positive difference in the lives of those around them. From supporting education and health care to the arts and social services, these generous donors have contributed significant funds to a wide range of causes. Their philanthropic efforts have profoundly impacted the Las Vegas community, helping improve the quality of life for many people in need. As we celebrate the work of these ten philanthropists, we are reminded of the power of giving and the importance of generosity in creating a better world for all.

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