Griffin Catalyst champions initiatives with the power to transform lives. 

Griffin Catalyst is the civic engagement initiative of Ken Griffin, encompassing his philanthropic and community imp­act efforts.

Focused on expanding opportunity and improving lives, Griffin Catalyst advances solutions to the world’s greatest challenges.

Griffin Catalyst supports six key priorities: Education, Science & Medicine, Communities, Upward Mobility, Freedom & Democracy, and Enterprise & Innovation.

Working within these areas, Griffin Catalyst:

  • Partners with visionary leaders and teams who are game changers in their fields
  • Makes strategic investments in high-potential initiatives with the power to transform lives
  • Mobilizes public and private resources to drive impact at scale

Ken cares deeply about expanding access to the American Dream. Griffin Catalyst is dedicated to protecting the promise of our nation, and to ensuring that every person has the opportunity to achieve their fullest potential.

Explore our approach

About Ken Griffin

Kenneth C. Griffin is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Citadel, one of the world’s leading alternative investment firms. He is also the Founder and Non-Executive Chairman of Citadel Securities, one of the world’s preeminent market makers. A passionate philanthropist, Ken has donated more than $2 billion to advance initiatives with the power to transform lives.

From an early age, Ken was fascinated by the potential for computers to change the world. While a student at Boca Raton Community High School, Ken served as President of the Math Club, and from his childhood bedroom he started a business selling software to educational institutions.

Ken credits his success and drive to his family. Ken’s mother studied childhood education, and Ken’s father, the first in his family to go to college, worked on the space program as an engineer for General Electric.

Ken’s grandmother Genevieve grew up on a family farm, without running water. She married her high school sweetheart, Wayne Gratz. Wayne started a small business soon after high school, and together they wrote an American success story.

When Wayne died unexpectedly, Genevieve continued to run the family businesses by herself, and as a testament to her success, she was eventually able to fund Ken’s Harvard tuition with her savings.

To Ken, his grandmother’s generosity would serve as an enduring influence, further informing his commitment to helping others, and his passion to support access to education.

Thanks to my parents and grandparents and the incredible freedoms we enjoy as Americans, I had the ability to pursue my dreams.

In his freshman year, Ken read about an investment opportunity in Forbes, and there, in 1986, from his Harvard College dorm room, his career in trading began.

During the summer of 1987, Ken had an opportunity to discuss the insights he gleaned with a retired Wall Street trader who helped him raise over a quarter of a million dollars to start his first hedge fund.

To further facilitate his investing, Ken also convinced the university to let him install a small satellite dish on the roof of his dorm so that he could receive market data in real time.

Following graduation, Ken moved to Chicago to join Frank Meyer at Glenwood Partners, who embraced his vision of building an institutional hedge fund business. Citadel was launched in the fall of 1990.

At a time when most of Wall Street relied on pencils, paper, and rule of thumb heuristics, in building Citadel, Ken believed that the combination of advanced quantitative analytics and powerful software could drive progress and create a competitive advantage in the financial markets.

A focus on exceptional talent and collaboration further set Citadel apart, and much to the dismay of Ken’s competitors on Wall Street, one of his first senior hires was a rocket scientist.

Today, Citadel is the most profitable hedge fund manager of all time, measured by net gains since its founding (LCH Investment NV estimates as of December 31, 2023), and its success has empowered the missions of the world’s preeminent research institutions, universities, healthcare organizations, and pension plans with the mission of delivering superior long-term returns.

Citadel inspires over 2,500 professionals to pursue bold ideas, take thoughtful risks, and reimagine and refine investment strategies to tackle some of the most important challenges in financial markets.

Building on the firm’s success, in 2002 Ken and his partners founded Citadel Securities to deliver superlative liquidity to the world’s retail and institutional investors. Today a leading market maker, Citadel Securities has played a crucial role in the advancement and evolution of financial markets.

More than ever, America needs leadership. We need it in our businesses, in our government, and in our civic society.

Since the earliest days of his career, Ken’s fundamental values have not only helped drive the success of Citadel and Citadel Securities, but also have inspired his extensive philanthropic and civic engagement.

Over the past three decades, Ken has supported efforts to expand access to high-quality education at every level, advance medical research, enhance communities, and strengthen freedom and democracy.

Inspired by the power of the American Dream in his own life, Ken’s catalytic investments are focused on expanding opportunity and empowering people to live longer and healthier lives.

Griffin Catalyst is just getting started.

On May 1, 2018, Ken Griffin addressed the annual Celebration of Scholarships dinner at Harvard University, where the Griffin Scholars program has allowed hundreds of gifted students to attend Harvard College, regardless of their financial resources.
Photo Credit: The Harvard Gazette, photo by Tony Rinaldo
I really hope to contribute to society for decades to come. I think it's very important for us to take a step back and to think about how remarkable it is that we as a people write our own destiny.
On May 1, 2018, Ken Griffin addressed the annual Celebration of Scholarships dinner at Harvard University, where the Griffin Scholars program has allowed hundreds of gifted students to attend Harvard College, regardless of their financial resources.
Photo Credit: The Harvard Gazette, photo by Tony Rinaldo

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