NET WORTH: Unknown
SOURCE OF WEALTH: Founder of ATGStores.com; Angel Investor
FUNDING AREAS: Education & Youth, Animals, TBD
OVERVIEW: Gary Rubens and his wife Jennifer founded the Rubens Family Foundation in 2012. Since 2013, the Rubens Family Foundation has granted over $26 million. Grants have focused on education, mentoring programs, and college scholarships. The highlight of the couple's philanthropy so far is their $20 million gift to Washington State Opportunity Scholarship to help support students who want to get a degree in a STEM or health care field.
BACKGROUND: Rubens grew up on the Olympic Peninsula in the Seattle area, where his family struggled to make ends meet. He held a full-time job in high school and was accepted to Washington State University. He decided against going, as the cost would have sent his parents into debt. Rubens started a manufacturing company in the hospitality industry. He later worked in the lighting business, and realizing that he could sell his products online, launched LightingUniverse.com. The company later opened FixtureUniverse.com under the name ATG Stores, which has expanded to offer more than 3,000 name-brand manufacturers who specialize in home improvement products and home furnishings. In 2011, Lowe’s acquired ATG. Rubens has also been prolific as an angel investor, with startups such as Fanzo, Reveal, and Farmstr getting his support.
EDUCATION & YOUTH: Given Rubens' own background as a youth who was prohibited from attending college by financial circumstances, the couple's philanthropy so far has been focused on education and youth. The Rubens Family Foundation, in fact, "was created out of a passion to provide college scholarships for underprivileged students and to support no-cost adoptions for foster children."
The highlight of the couple's philanthropy so far is their recent $20 million gift to the Washington State Opportunity Scholarship, a "unique partnership helping to build the next generations of professionals in science, engineering, mathematics, health care, and other high-demand fields." Later that same year, Rubens' would go on to help the organization raise another $500,000, matching donations to the organization through a fundraiser held by GeekWire and Bank of America. Other high-profile Washingtonians have been involved with the scholarship program as well, including Steve Ballmer, who recently gave $11 million.
The couple has also supported scholarships through College Success Foundation, giving $4.5 million in grants since the start of 2013 for 180 four-year scholarships to underprivileged and low-income students. Support has also gone to Ranier Scholars, with $200,000 going to the Ranier Scholars 11-year program, providing "enriched academic support for children of adversity."
Support has also gone to Summer Search, which "supports students short on opportunity and provides professional mentoring," and TAF Technology Access Foundation. TAF Academy is a STEM-focused school.
The Rubens Family Foundation has also supported the Detlef Schrempf Foundation with a total of $360,000 in grants since 2013. Founded by former Seattle Supersonic basketball player Detlef Schrempf, the Detlef Schrempf Foundation was created to ""to strengthen the lives of children and families in the Northwest USA."
Funds have also gone to Youth Eastside Services, Antioch Adoptions, which provides no-cost adoptions, Assistance League, Friends of the Children, Seattle Children's Hospital and the Strong Against Cancer initiative.
ANIMALS: The couple has supported Homeward Pet, a no-kill animal shelter.
LOOKING FORWARD: Rubens is one to watch, particularly for those working in Washington State.
The foundation doesn't list any grantmaking guidelines or provide a clear way to make an introduction on its website but below is an address
Rubens Family Foundation
C/O Foundation Source
55 Walls Dr., 3rd Floor
Fairfield CT, 06824
Attn: Ryan Demaria
Phone: (203) 319-3761