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LaRosa's Launches Family Foundation To Support Youth

buddy larosa
Courtesy of LaRosa's
Buddy LaRosa with sons Mike and Mark during the CET Action Auction.

A well-known Cincinnati pizza family is celebrating its patriarch's birthday by launching a foundation. The LaRosas are creating the LaRosa Family Foundation in honor of Buddy LaRosa's 90th birthday.

The foundation is aimed at helping children and youth, a lifelong passion of Buddy LaRosa, who created the Cincinnati Golden Gloves boxing program for youth.

"The mission of our foundation will be to fund programs and activities to help young people develop through life skill training, education and athletics," says son Mike LaRosa. "It's the right thing to do and it's the right time to do it. It allows us to serve the community that has been so good to Buddy and to our family."

The family is seeding the foundation with $90,000 and aims to add to that endowment over the next six to nine months, Mike LaRosa says.

"I really have a vision that I want this to become one of the most vibrant local family foundations that can support our local communities, the communities that we touch and serve our branded restaurant products to," says Mike LaRosa.

The family intends to fund the endowment through the company's retail sales - think buying LaRosa's sauce or salad dressing at the grocery store - some "Buddy Card" revenues, and from a new line of books expected in the future. It will also accept donations to the endowment.

Christina LaRosa, a daughter, will serve as executive director.

"The mission of the foundation will be to support non-profit organizations focusing on giving kids the support, training and tools they need to be successful," she says.

While the functional details are still being finalized, more information about the grant process and timing is expected sometime in mid-2021.

Credit Zoom screen capture
Buddy LaRosa at home in his Price Hill kitchen celebrating his 90th birthday on Aug. 25, 2020.

"(My father's) educational experiences, his athletic experiences in youth sports, and anyone who mentored him or coached him throughout his life was a huge part of his development and Dad has always been focused on that and we want to continue a passion for that (for) decades into the future," Mike LaRosa adds.

For his part, Buddy LaRosa says he was raised to pursue his dreams and serve the community.

"Providing a service or a product to make the community a better community, whether it's food or service, that's what I wanted to do," he explains.

Buddy LaRosa, a graduate of Roger Bacon High School, founded LaRosa's Pizzerias in 1954 when he was 24 years old. There are now 65 family pizzeria locations in Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana. LaRosa's is a $167 million restaurant company with roughly 4,000 employees.

Senior Editor and reporter at WVXU with more than 20 years experience in public radio; formerly news and public affairs producer with WMUB. Would really like to meet your dog.