What's New

Discover the latest news for the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr Foundation.

Job Openings

  • The Philanthropy Fellowship will give an emerging leader a unique opportunity to make meaningful contributions to the Foundation and to the larger nonprofit community. Throughout the fellowship you will be exposed to all aspects of philanthropy in the Foundation’s focus areas. The Philanthropy Fellows will support the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation (RCWJRF) in leveraging the good work that is already underway in Western New York and Southeast Michigan. The fellows will be embedded in the Program team, with approximately 90 percent of time allocated to supporting the grant making activities of the Foundation, and 10 percent of time to their own learning and professional development through the Council of Michigan Foundations (CMF). Fellows will assist in identifying areas of mutual importance to RCWJRF staff and/or its grantees and advance research, communications and convening in support of shared issue.

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  • The Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation is growing and adding two Program Associates to their team. The Program Associate is responsible for supporting the program team with the Foundation’s grantmaking activities. Under the supervision of a Program Officer, the Program Associate will analyze information relevant to grantmaking, assist in writing team documents, and respond to internal and external requests for information. The Program Associate is also responsible for grant processing functions and aiding in planning and scheduling meetings, including related travel.

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  • The Ralph C. Wilson, Jr., Foundation is growing and looking for strategic and entrepreneurial Program Officers to manage a multi-million-dollar portfolio for a dynamic $1.2 billion time-limited spend-down foundation. The Program Officers, reporting to the VP level, are responsible for supporting the development and implementation of grantmaking strategies, learning, and communications support around these strategies for the Foundation and its initiatives with grantees and partners.

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Press Releases

June 29, 2021

An effort called Open4, launched during the pandemic to help small businesses and nonprofits survive over the long haul, has awarded about $3 million in funding.

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June 28, 2021

There’s a new platform trying to reimagine after-school programs for teenagers in WNY. They gathered a group of 1,000 experts and paid them for their ideas. Who are these experts? The very teens using these programs.

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June 28, 2021

Teens from Washtenaw and Livingston counties have been granted funds for their after-school program ideas. The grants were given by Generator Z, an ideas lab that launched in 2020 to help teens reimagine after-school activities.

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June 22, 2021

The Buffalo Sewer Authority closed on a $54 million Environmental Impact Bond (EIB) last week, the country’s largest to date, to finance green infrastructure and stormwater mitigation projects as part of its Rain Check 2.0 initiative.

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May 18, 2021

The sun seems to be shining brightly on Detroit’s West Riverfront Park right now. In March, the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy, which owns the 22-acre park, was awarded a new $500,000 grant by the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation to support a new garden and other improvements there. And the conservancy is now preparing to kick off a massive […]

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May 18, 2021

More than 24 community organizations in Detroit led by or serving Black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC) will share $11 million in operating support over the next two years thanks to grants announced last month by Enterprise Community Partners, a national nonprofit focused on the affordable housing crisis.

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May 2, 2021

Some 90 organizations are receiving over $2 million from the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation. The Legacy grants, administered through the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo, were given to support caregivers, youth sports, cultural and arts organizations and recreational trails – all areas important to Wilson when he was alive. 

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April 15, 2021

For the past few years, State Parks officials have been thinking about a makeover for the visitor center at Niagara Falls State Park. Now, they’ve decided on a do-over instead. The 36-year-old building will be demolished and replaced with a larger building on the same site, officials announced Friday.

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March 30, 2021

A $500,000 gift from the trusts of Ralph C. Wilson Jr.’s late daughters will support the Detroit riverfront park named for their father.

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March 30, 2021

A million dollars from the trusts of two of Ralph C. Wilson Jr.’s daughters, both deceased, will go toward a relocated Barkyard, Buffalo’s first dog park, and a planned entry garden by a pedestrian bridge that will be built in the park named in his honor.  

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February 7, 2021

A cross-sector group of government and nonprofit leaders in Pontiac is working to finalize data-driven goals for the next five to 10 years to help spur economic growth and revitalization in the city.

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February 4, 2021

The Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation is putting $3 million in grants behind afterschool programs inspired by feedback it solicited from 1,000 high school students. The foundation last fall paid 1,000 high school students across its focus areas of Southeast Michigan and Western New York $1,000 each for their year-long participation in a project dubbed “Generator Z.”

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January 27, 2021

With the groundbreaking for a transformed Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Centennial Park one year away, the question of who will operate and maintain the park has become clear. A newly-established not-for-profit called the Ralph Wilson Park Conservancy will be in charge.

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December 31, 2020

Parks and trails have always been a big part of the Western New York experience, but their prominence and accessibility have grown significantly in recent years thanks to the support of the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation.

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October 6, 2020

The Foundation was honored to be named the recipient of ESPN’s inaugural Sports Philanthropist of the Year honor as part of its 2020 Sports Humanitarian Awards. We’re proud to share and celebrate this recognition with our amazing partners and incredible grantees that are working each and every day to provide equitable access and a better youth sport experience for all children.

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July 30, 2020

The Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation recently announced more than $1 million in grants to support small, home-based childcare providers through the “Small Grants for Small Children” program. The funds were granted to four Western New York-based community foundations to cover nine counties across the region. “Childcare is essential now more than ever,” said Amber […]

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June 4, 2020

We are heartbroken over the continued pain and loss within our African-American community. We remain committed – as a Foundation, as Trustees, as individual staff, as human beings – to deepen our listening, and address inequalities through our work.  We hope that peaceful protests and dialogue can heal relationships between our communities, dedicated law enforcement […]

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March 16, 2020

Dear friends and partners, In accordance with guidance and recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and the State of Michigan to mitigate community spread of COVID-19, the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation has closed its physical office in Detroit effective today. As the coronavirus situation unfolds we will continue to review potential reopening on […]

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August 23, 2019

Lavea Brachman, Vice President of Programs, Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation This May, the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation sponsored a trip to explore social entrepreneurship in Israel. Dubbed the “Startup Nation,” Israel’s entrepreneurism has become part of its DNA, sprung from several unique factors, and leading to an unprecedented number of successful high-tech and […]

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May 2, 2018

Sure, sometimes, the 22-acre space comes alive for the occasional outdoor concert, but for the most part, Detroit’s West Riverfront Park is pretty desolate compared to the city’s RiverWalk, just a few miles east and home to lush wetlands vegetation, family-friendly playgrounds and volleyball courts and spacious walkways that welcome three million visitors a year […]

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April 18, 2018

Detroit Future City’s deputy director, Allandra Bulger, has been named executive director of the first-of-its-kind nonprofit support and innovation center in development for Detroit, following a national search. The Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation is putting more than $5 million in grants over the next few years behind the center and has tapped the TechTown […]

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April 4, 2018

In 2016, NPQ wrote about the founding of the Ralph C. Wilson Foundation in Michigan. The emergence of the new philanthropy was made notable by a number of factors, including its $1.2 billion endowment and the fact that it will sunset or spend down within twenty years of its founding.

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April 2, 2018

Play is critically important to a child’s development. Kids learn how to interact with the world around them through play. It helps them learn the cognitive, physical, social and emotional skills that they need to thrive. Play is considered so essential to child development that the United Nations High Commission for Human Rights see it […]

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March 29, 2018

It can be difficult for philanthropy, often based in wealthy coastal cities, to meaningfully address middle America’s ongoing economic plight. Since the 2016 election, as we’ve often observed, many funders have begun paying closer attention to those challenges. But the geographic disconnect remains.

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March 27, 2018

With the impending sale of the Buffalo Bills in 2014, most fans were united in anxiety over a single question — would the team be sold to an owner who would relocate the beloved franchise? It was a question that hung in the air for several years preceding the death of Ralph C. Wilson Jr., founding owner of the hometown team, and it intensified upon his passing in March 2014 at age 95. With so much focus on the negative possibilities surrounding […]

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March 20, 2018

The Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation has announced the launch of STEM 2035, an initiative aimed at strengthening the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) pipeline in western New York and southeast Michigan.

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March 19, 2018

Under-served youths interested in careers in science, technology, engineering and math will be getting assistance through a new program announced Monday by the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation. STEM 2035 is an initiative that will grant funding and technical assistance to existing after-school and summer programs in western New York and southeast Michigan; regions that […]

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March 15, 2018

Having room to roam, to dream about the future and to imagine a better world—that is what the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation sees as the reasons for investing in public play spaces in communities that truly need them. Recently, the organization announced Built to Play, an initiative focusing on children and youth in Western […]

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March 15, 2018

The Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation in Detroit and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology today announced that the foundation will support the MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy and its annual Inclusive Innovation Challenge (IIC). The program seeks to identify and promote entrepreneurial organizations in North America that are using technology to improve economic opportunity […]

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March 9, 2018

If children have the opportunity to play, they will take it. That may mean running, jumping, skipping rope or hopping back and forth on lines drawn in chalk. This was the state of play so many of us grew up with and somehow got lost over the decades. Yes, video games have become ubiquitous. Few […]

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March 6, 2018

The Buffalo-based Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation has announced a $10 million initiative to provide children and youth across western New York State and southeastern Michigan with more opportunities for free play through the creation of public play spaces.

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March 1, 2018

If you build it they will come. The Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation announced Thursday the creation of a program that will build interactive public play spaces for kids as well as skate parks in western New York and southeast Michigan. The “Built to Play’’ initiative will be funded by $5 million awards to each […]

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February 17, 2018

Explore & More museum’s Valentine’s Day gift is a box of multimillion dollar chocolates the entire community will enjoy, thanks to the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation. The museum will appropriately be named: Explore & More – The Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Children’s Museum. The foundation’s promise to award $6 million to the project if […]

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December 8, 2017

A $1 million grant from the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation has launched the Buffalo Scholastic Rowing Association’s fundraising efforts for its new rowing center one giant length closer to the finish line. The grant is the largest gift the BSRA has received for the Patrick Paladino Memorial Boathouse, based on the original donation of […]

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December 3, 2017

The Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation is looking to fill a gaping hole in metro Detroit’s support system for nonprofits — and it’s turning to some experts in entrepreneurial cross-pollination to help. The foundation is putting more than $5 million in grants over the next few years behind what could be a first-of-its-kind nonprofit support […]

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August 23, 2017

A leading elderly memory care provider in Rochester has received a $151,000 grant toward staff training. Rochester Presbyterian Home, an assisted living facility with three locations in Perinton, Chili and the 19th Ward, received the grant through the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation, a community development nonprofit founded by the late businessman, famed for founding […]

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August 21, 2017

Detroit health officials hope increased access to child care services and information during pregnancy will reduce premature births and decrease infant mortality, Mayor Mike Duggan said Wednesday. Make Your Date Detroit, a partnership with the city and Wayne State University (WSU), has served more than 5,800 women since launching in 2014. The effort is adding […]

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July 13, 2017

Greenways will soon take Detroiters from 8 Mile to the Riverfront and everywhere in between. That’s the “gist” of the anticipated impact of a $2 million Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation grant announced by Mayor Mike Duggan today. Neighborhood residents, who remain largely disconnected by roadways that split neighborhoods and partial pathways that lead “nowhere,” […]

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July 11, 2017

The Detroit RiverFront Conservancy has received a $345,000 grant to fund a design competition to help transform the park that sits on property that was once home to the Detroit Free Press printing plant, officials said. The nonprofit dedicated to developing the city’s riverfront district and facilitate community access to the waterfront, the Conservancy said […]

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July 7, 2017

Southeast Michigan is a diverse region. It covers broad swatches of farmland, suburbs, and urban neighborhoods. Half of our state population resides in metro Detroit, which contains both affluent and low-income families of many ethnicities. In our communities and neighborhoods, it is the next generation – young people of all ages, cultures and creeds – […]

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June 30, 2017

A computer tablet capable of connecting its users to a nursing station for face-to-face communication is changing the way one local hospice reaches out to its patients.  Angela Hospice in Livonia received a $2.1 million grant from the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation to start a “telehospice” program that allows patients and caregivers to video […]

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June 29, 2017

Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation and Rochester Area Community Foundation release groundbreaking report on the state of play in Greater Rochester and Finger Lakes. It will serve as a playbook on how best to use a $5 million endowment for youth sports and recreation to build a healthier, happier community.

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June 29, 2017

Youth sports have fundamentally changed over the generations – from casual, unstructured play to more organized programs run by adults – and the end result has been noticeable: Fewer kids playing and staying active, and more kids overweight and obese. But a new report – touted as the first of its kind nationally – outlines […]

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June 28, 2017

Michigan kids need to get moving, according to a study of youth sports released today. The study found that while 85% of parent think their children would benefit from playing a sport or being active, only 13% of kids are getting the recommended daily hour of physical activity. The study, called State of Play, was […]

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June 28, 2017

Ralph Wilson won a tennis trophy when he was 12. Mary Wilson, his widow, plans to bring it along to a (State of Play) news conference in Detroit on Wednesday. She sees the tinny token as a touchstone for his 95 years.

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May 22, 2017

The National Comedy Center in Jamestown, NY has reached its fundraising goal for completing what is to become the first cultural institution and visitor experience dedicated to comedy.

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April 13, 2017

The $1.8 million grant from the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation was presented to Help Me Grow Western New York, an organization launched in 2011 by the Health Foundation of Western New York with more than 40 partner agencies, including Niagara University’s College of Education, to create an umbrella of access to the multitude of […]

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December 14, 2016

The Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation has made a $2 million grant to the Detroit Employment Solutions Corp. to help educate Detroiters for information technology careers.  The new grant will support the regional expansion of TechHire, a White House initiative launched to expand local tech sectors by building talent pipelines in communities across the country. […]

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November 1, 2016

The foundation created by the late Ralph C. Wilson, Jr., longtime owner of the NFL’s Buffalo Bills franchise, plans to dedicate more than $1.2 billion over the next twenty years to “sustained investment in the quality of life of the people of western New York and southeastern Michigan,” the Buffalo News reports.

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November 1, 2016

These organizations want to discuss gaps and goals, not just dollars and cents.

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November 1, 2016

The late Ralph C. Wilson Jr. left hundreds of millions of dollars to Western New York. His enormous generosity will have a meaningful impact on the lives of many of the region’s most vulnerable citizens.

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November 1, 2016

Total investment increases to over $11 million over five years and expands geographic reach.

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October 2, 2016

Imagine you have $1 billion to give away to worthy causes in a limited amount of time. What do you do? That’s the beautiful dilemma facing Detroit’s newest charitable foundation.

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