Phil Ivey is a quiet guy. Despite his position at the top of poker world as one of the most accomplished players in the game – feared for his intensity at the tables and respected for his play – he likes to keep to himself. He generally keeps his personal life away from the poker media and shrinks from the cameras, fans, and general attention. And his recent charity work has been done from the heart, certainly not for any kudos.
In March of 2008, it was announced that Ivey and his family were in the process of forming a non-profit organization called the Budding Ivey Foundation to continue Phil’s grandfather’s philanthropic ways. The first donation was in the amount of $50,000 for the Empowered 2 Excel organization in Las Vegas.
At the beginning of June, just as the 2008 World Series of Poker got underway, he took some time off on behalf of his foundation to visit the Las Vegas Salvation Army. Fellow board members Winston Morgan and LaTosha Perry went with him to visit the 200 homeless people looking for food and shelter. The Budding Ivey Foundation then made a donation of an undisclosed amount to the International Reach and Teach Institute (IRTI), an organization that provides health education, care, and counseling to at-risk youth, seniors, veterans, and families in need throughout the Las Vegas area. IRTI also provides nutritional meals, clothing, and other living necessities to the homeless.
Larry Wright, founder of IRTI, noted, “When Phil witnessed the situation developing at the Salvation Army, he immediately became involved. He even helped us distribute 150 food packages.”
IRTI co-founder John Currie added, “”Due to the current economy, the feeding program has fizzled. We’ve been feeding about 150 people per week. But because of Ivey’s recent generosity, we’ll be able to increase that number by more than 300% over the next several weeks.
The Budding Ivey Foundation was founded by Phil Ivey and his mother, Pamela Simmons-Ivey to fulfill the wishes of Phil’s grandfather, Leonard “Bud” Simmons. Mr. Simmons took numerous opportunities to offer hope to the underprivileged, and the foundation built in his honor aims to “help the underrepresented, the at-risk and the needy, whether these conditions have arisen because of financial, educational, or other circumstances.” The mission statement also reads, “A strong emphasis is place on enrichment programs, learning and reading programs, and other activities that help children and their families go on to achieve rewarding and self-sufficient futures.”