How This Vampire Diaries Star Developed A Taste for Philanthropy

The actor Ian Somerhalder is perhaps best known for his roles in Lost and Vampire Diaries. Somerhalder also recently married actress Nikki Reed of Twilight fame. While this young couple is active in Hollywood, and has a penchant vampire-related roles, it seems, Somerhalder has also developed a taste for philanthropy. On his 32nd birthday, he founded the Ian Somerhalder Foundation on the heels of the BP oil spill. The forces here are especially strong because Somerhalder was born in Louisiana.

Somerhalder said that watching news coverage of the spill was "like watching a family member die....I’d just wrapped Vampire Diaries.... I was so angry. I literally packed everything, grabbed my two pets, rented a car and hauled ass back home to Louisiana.”

The mission of the Ian Somerhalder Foundation is "to empower, educate and collaborate with people and projects to positively impact the planet and its creatures." The foundation aims to achieve this in several ways, including:

  • Distributing funds and resources toward global conservation, green energy development/deployment and educational tools
  • Creating awareness that global deforestation can be seen as a national/international and global security risk
  • Creating mobility by engaging and supporting youth, ending animal cruelty and promoting programs
  • Supporting and creating sustainable strategies for 'no-kill shelters

The foundation runs a grants program called the ISF Emergency Medical Care Grant for Animals that was launched in 2014 to help "rescuers care for animals recovering from abuse, neglect and traumatic injuries." According to 2014 tax returns, ISF recently granted $75,000, helping "204 creatures, including dogs, cats, horses, and other farm, exotic, and wildlife animals." The foundation awards a maximum of $2,500 per grant application.

The foundation also works in public outreach, providing "information to educate and engage supporters and create public awareness of issues that are vital to the foundation's charitable mission." In 2014, the foundation provided "daily social media postings to more than one million supporters via Facebook, Twitter and Instagram."

Somerhalder is only in his 30s, but his interests in the environment should be watched carefully. Nikki Reed, as well, has been an environmental advocate.

Related: Ian Somerhalder Glitzy Giving Guide