Ross Family Fund

“We’re Rhode Islanders. This will always be our home, and if there’s something we can do to help people have a better life, we want to do it,” says Donna Ross of her and her husband Mark’s decision to establish an endowment at the Foundation.

“I’ve read very good things about the Foundation and the funds it has dispersed to worthy nonprofits through the years,” Mark continues.

The Ross name is well-known in Rhode Island – and beyond – as the first half of Rhode Island-based Ross-Simons. The company was founded in 1952 by Mark’s father, Sidney Ross, and Phil Simons. From one jewelry store on Westminster Street in Providence, the company has grown to include not only brick and mortar stores, but also robust catalog and online sales.

Mark and Donna Ross
Mark and Donna Ross

Mark is a graduate of Cranston High School East (CHSE), the University of Rhode Island (URI), and the University of Michigan, the latter where he earned an MBA. He worked for one year for Proctor & Gamble before joining the family business in 1967. He also served six years with the Rhode Island Air National Guard following his return to Rhode Island.

Ross-Simons isn’t just where Mark built a 35-year career, it’s also where he met his future wife. A graduate of Cranston High School West and what today is the Community College of Rhode Island, Donna earned a degree in social work at Florida International University. After returning to Rhode Island and while looking for a position in her field, Donna began working at Ross-Simons.

The couple later married and had two sons, Jared and Seth. They are active in the community, especially with organizations for which Mark serves or has served on the board, including St. Andrew’s School, URI Hillel, Dorcas International Institute of Rhode Island, and the Rhode Island Community Food Bank. In addition, Donna started and led for many years a support group for women with breast cancer. The couple also established scholarships at both CHSE and URI.

“We just feel that giving back is what we’re supposed to do. It’s the way we were raised,” Mark concludes.