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 $30 million. Grants have prioritized education, mentoring programs, and college scholarships. A highlight of the couple's philanthropy so far is their $20 million donation to Washington State Opportunity Scholarship to support students who want to get a degree in a STEM or healthcare field.
BACKGROUND: Gary Rubens grew up 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 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 has so far strongly prioritized 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."
A highlight of the couple's philanthropy 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, healthcare, and other high-demand fields." Later that same year, Rubens helped 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. They have also supported Ranier Scholars, providing "enriched academic support for children of adversity." Other grantees have included 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 Rubenses also back Detlef Schrempf Foundation. Founded by former Seattle Supersonics player Detlef Schrempf, the Detlef Schrempf Foundation was created to "to strengthen the lives of children and families in the Northwest USA."
The couple also supports 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.