In 2011, Anthony established the Rugiero Promise Foundation, a volunteer-only organization, driven on one commitment, “Improving the quality of life in the communities we serve “. Bringing his passion and commitment to numerous charities is extremely fulfilling for Anthony’s work and life. He consistently endeavors to be involved and strongly get behind worthwhile community organizations – whether it is supporting local schools, sponsoring community events, or helping vulnerable individuals; his involvement makes a positive impact.
Throughout the year, the Rugiero Promise Foundation provides longstanding support for several annual charity events to raise funds and awareness for local charities. In 2008, Antonio Sr. passed away from complications due to Diabetes. Inspired by their desire to honor their father’s memory – Anthony and his brothers contemplated their dad’s hobbies and realized all he did was work, but he did enjoy traveling to Las Vegas for the annual Food Show with his sons. These memories of their trips to Las Vegas with their dad are what motivated the creation of Rugiero Casino Royale – the signature event for the Rugiero Promise Foundation, supporting Diabetes Research at the University of Michigan Medicine Center. Anthony’s mission has become to have the Rugiero Promise Foundation and the Casino Royale event become a household name for finding a cure for Diabetes. Anthony feels blessed to be able to give back to the community. Anthony made a vow that, in gratitude for all of God’s blessings, his family would never stop working to help those less fortunate.
Dedicated to the work of philanthropy in both his public and private life, Anthony serves on numerous Charity Boards including the Detroit Opera House, Patrons of the Arts in the Vatican Museums, Italian Language Inter-Cultural Alliance, Volterra-Detroit Foundation, and The Italian American Club of Livonia Charitable Foundation, to name a few.
In 1999, Anthony Rugiero joined his mentor Frank Stella, in his efforts to establish the Michigan chapter of the Patrons of the Arts in the Vatican Museums (PAVM), entering the ranks as one of the many chapters around the world – raising money to restore the precious art at the Vatican museums. Anthony and his wife, Sabrina, regard their work with the PAVM as one of the most valuable and rewarding parts of their philanthropic endeavors, knowing that the work that is being done enables their children and future generations to see and appreciate the arts.
Anthony added his expertise and funding to join the mayor and continue the Dearborn Heights Spirit Festival in 2003, a city-wide event to celebrate culture and food. To accomplish this feat, Anthony promised that if the city would continue the festival, Antonio’s would cover the losses, so the taxpayers did not have to, and the kids could continue to enjoy the festival – and so began the Dearborn Heights Spirit Festival sponsored by Antonio’s.
With his Italian heritage being a special part of his life, his mentor Frank Stella introduced Anthony to Vincenzo Marra, who later became a dear friend and founder of the Italian Language Inter-Cultural Alliance (ILICA) This introduction started a long-friendship and Anthony joined the Board of Directors in 2007.
ILICA is an organization that provides training courses in Italy for American teachers who teach the Italian language in grades Kindergarten through the University level. These funds have also allowed the foundation to organize events, art exhibitions as well as trade fairs specifically dedicated to the promotion of language and culture within the USA.
In 2011, Anthony spearheaded a campaign to assist the University of Detroit Mercy to build a school for students studying alabaster and architecture abroad in Volterra, Italy. This was no small project and Anthony knew when Stephen Vogel and Wladek Fuchs, friends of the late Frank Stella, asked for help to bring their vision to reality. To make this happen, they needed funding. At the same time, Anthony was also committed to two other foundations, ILICA and Boy’s Town of Italy. Faced with this challenge, Anthony woke in the middle of the night with the idea of bringing Il Volo to Detroit for a benefit concert to raise money for all three initiatives. Il Volo was Italy’s new singing sensation that Anthony had watched their winning performance at the San Remo Festival in Italy days before. Anthony knew that he had to bring their talents to Detroit and so he introduced Il Volo to the United States with their first concert in Detroit at the Fox Theatre followed by a benefit dinner at the Detroit Opera House. Weeks later, a PBS special aired promoting Il Volo. The Il Volo Concert and benefit dinner was such a huge success that the proceeds were shared with all three charitable initiatives. To commemorate Anthony’s participation in achieving their goal, The newly established University of Detroit-Volterra in Volterra, Italy named the dining hall in Anthony’s father’s honor at his request.
Anthony continued his work with the Italian American community when he joined the Italian American Club of Livonia (IACL) Board of Directors in 2016 through 2020. During that time, the IACL went through its biggest expansion since its founding in 1990. Since 2019, Anthony serves on the Board for the Italian American Club of Livonia Charitable Foundation (IACLCF) which works exclusively for charitable, educational and welfare purposed for the Italian American Community.
My mentor Frank Stella said, “If you take the time to do it, make it count.”
My father would say, “In family, with unity comes strength.”