National Civic League


Inspired by the progress in the East, Antonio R. Rizzuto, an Italian immigrant who had become successful contractor and an influential business and civic leader in the Midwest, founded the National Civic League.  On May 27th, 1931, Rizzuto called a  meeting of prominent American citizens of Italian heritage at Omaha, Nebraska to discuss the need to organize Italian-Americans all over the country into a national group.   The society would embody the principles of promoting civic work  and making them better American citizens.

The desire of those of Italian heritage to have an impact on their communities and their country continued to expand the membership.  After additional chapters were established in other Midwestern cities, the League held its first national convention in  Omaha on February 20th, 1932.  Mr. Rizzuto was elected the League’s first President.

Prior to the 1947 merger, The National Civic League achieved a number of milestones of its own.   In 1934 the Scholarship program was instituted – 27 young men were sent to Italy for six weeks under the supervision of Fred A. l Ossanna; their June 15, 1935 banquet was broadcast by NBC from coast to coast in recognition of the program’s worth.  The event was attended by three Governors – Iowa, Wisconsin and Minnesota as well as the Italian Ambassador and the Chief Justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court.

Fred Ossanna initiated the effort that we know today as the UNICO NATIONAL FOUNDATION.