John R. Oishei Foundation Grant

John R. Oishei Foundation

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Grant amount: US $1,000 - US $1,000,000

Deadline: Rolling

Applicant type: Nonprofit

Funding uses: Training / Capacity Building, Capital Project, General Operating Expense, Education / Outreach, Applied Project / Program

Location of project: Counties in New York: Erie County, Niagara County

Location of residency: Counties in New York: Erie County, Niagara County

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About this funder:

View past grantees & full 990 summary


Foundation Overview

The Foundation remains true to Mr. Oishei's original intent: To improve the lives of Western New York's residents. We focus our support on programs and organizations which are clearly based upon attainment of excellence both in concept and ultimate implementation.

In 2016, the Foundation staff and board, with the assistance of consultants, developed a comprehensive five-year strategic plan. It identifies the Foundation’s core focus areas, goals, catalytic behaviors and more. In order to maximize our impact, the Foundation will work to meet these goals:
  • Strengthen the P-20 Education Continuum
  • Enhance Options for Self-Sufficiency
  • Build Livable, Stable Neighborhoods
  • Promote Health and Improve Systems
  • Expand the Role of Arts, Culture and Heritage in Regional Development
It will remain a priority for us to support creative programs and other initiatives which attempt to advance from the status quo, are strategically sound, and can effectively meet community needs. The Foundation remains supportive of initiatives that involve collaboration and those in which Foundation support can leverage support from other sources.

The Oishei Foundation is fully committed to bringing about marked improvements in the quality of life and economic well-being of residents of the Western New York community. To this end, the Foundation seeks shared visions with community leaders and other funders that will lead to positive change in the Buffalo Niagara region and enhance its reputation as a locale of progress, imagination, and excellence.

Focus Areas

Strengthen the P-20 Education Continuum
The Foundation will work to Strengthen the P-20 Continuum by identifying and supporting best practices that benefit students so they can enter school ready to learn and successfully graduate from college or post-secondary programs, prepared to enter the workforce.


  1. Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education from cradle to career to strengthen the education pipeline.
  2. Build connections across the education system and with outside partners to enhance the education pathway with seamless points of transition.
  3. Strengthen the capacity of providers to address the complex challenges facing students and their families.
  4. Enhance training, leadership development and engagement opportunities for teachers and parents to increase professional development and collaboration.
  5. Share best practices and create mutual advocacy platforms to strengthen opportunities for learning and encourage policy change.

Enhance Options for Self-Sufficiency

The Foundation will support efforts that focus on the individual by providing basic human needs, enhancing options for self-sufficiency and empowering underserved communities to remove barriers to escaping poverty.


  1. Empower, support, structure and guide communities in developing effective strategies to address complex community issues.
  2. Enhance training and skill development opportunities to improve employment access and challenge current workforce paradigms.
  3. Improve access to dependable transportation options to increase mobility and promote livable communities.
  4. Improve access to safe, fair and affordable housing options to promote healthy communities.
  5. Strengthen resettlement and acclimation efforts to enhance the integration of immigrants, refugees and asylees into our community.
  6. Improve access to services by convening diverse stakeholders to shape public policy.

Build Livable, Stable Neighborhoods

The Foundation will support efforts that build strong, stable neighborhoods that are physically safe and attractive and that provide access to healthy food, reliable transportation, quality healthcare, safe and affordable housing, vibrant commercial districts, quality schools and meaningful employment opportunities.


  1. Enhance connections between existing neighborhood revitalization efforts and new opportunities to address long-term issues with interrelated activities and focus.
  2. Strengthen coalitions through support and guidance to build consensus and facilitate solution-based outcomes.
  3. Empower residents to create neighborhood change and build sustainable communities; partner with Community-Based Organizations (CBOs) to develop shared action plans.
  4. Build the capacity of organizations leading change to expand their influence in the community and create a positive ripple effect for systems change.

Promote Health and Improve Systems of Care

The Foundation will promote health and improve systems of care by supporting primary care, behavioral/mental health and developmental/intellectual disabilities (DD/ID), with a priority for at-risk and underserved populations. Additional focus will be placed on providing education and assistance as appropriate to community partners regarding changing healthcare delivery and reimbursement infrastructures.


  1. Improve healthcare clinics and outreach efforts to broaden the scope and raise the quality of healthcare for individuals and families in community settings.
  2. Enhance the employment pipeline to place more community health workers, home health aides, nurses and doctors in neighborhood settings.
  3. Strengthen family supports to protect children and assist parents with solving complex problems that can lead to violence, abuse and neglect.
  4. Promote opportunities for independent living to control healthcare costs and ensure that the elderly age in place with comfort, safety and dignity.
  5. Develop and expand existing education and training opportunities for providers to improve healthcare delivery and reimbursement.
  6. Strengthen systems of care by convening diverse stakeholders to shape public policy.

Expand the Role of Arts, Culture and Heritage in Regional Development

The Foundation will support efforts to increase the number of local visitors and tourists to stimulate economic development through arts, culture and heritage. In addition, we support the integration of the arts across all of our focus areas with an emphasis on education, healthcare, civic engagement and neighborhood stabilization.


  1. Strengthen arts organizations through capacity building and leadership development to ensure their vibrancy and ability to contribute to the sustained growth of the region.
  2. Integrate arts and cultural experiences with other strategies to ensure that communities with limited access will benefit and grow.
  3. Enhance economic development by strengthening the ability of arts organizations to attract national and international tourists.
  4. Protect and restore existing natural and heritage assets to ensure regional identity.
  5. Strengthen regional assets by convening diverse stakeholders to shape public policy.

Types of Support

The John R. Oishei Foundation's goals are to: Strengthen the P-20 Education Continuum; Enhance Options for Self-Sufficiency; Build Livable, Stable Neighborhoods; Promote Health and Improve Systems of Care; and Expand the Role of Arts, Culture and Heritage in Regional Development. Support is provided in three broad categories:

  • Expansion or improvement of existing, demonstrably successful programs, including support for new staff and equipment related to those programs;
  • Creation and implementation of new, innovative approaches to issues related to the Foundation’s interests; and
  • Core Operations Improvement - This category comprises requests that result in strengthening the internal operations of organizations that help to better fulfill their missions. Fundable activities may include, but are not limited to:
    • Capital expenditures and/or improvements related directly to an organization’s mission and programs which may include purchase or upgrade of equipment or limited renovation of facilities to improve service. Support for the purchase and/or extensive renovation of buildings may be considered. Organizations are encouraged to contact the Foundation for additional guidance.
    • Capacity Building and technical assistance including:
      • Professional development and training of board and/or staff
      • Strategic planning and implementation activities
      • Consultant assistance with improving financial or other managerial processes
      • Shared services, facilities, or personnel with other agencies

Grants may be short-term or multi-year (usually no more than four years in length). Multi-year grants are generally in decreasing amounts each year, and interim report(s) are required by the Foundation. Grants for longer periods of time are possible, and may be considered in light of the organization’s progress during the initial grant period. However, the Foundation in all cases strongly encourages grantees to seek and secure funding from other sources to ensure the continuation of the work. Organizations may include reasonable administrative or overhead expenses as a percentage of the overall budget, but must justify the amount requested.

You can learn more about this opportunity by visiting the funder's website.


  • In general, Foundation support is limited to activities in Erie and Niagara Counties (NY).
    • Organizations within those counties that wish to partner with organizations in other counties of Western New York (Allegany, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Genesee, Orleans and Wyoming) are encouraged to contact the Foundation for guidance.
  • Colleges and Universities in the eight counties of Western New York are eligible to apply.
  • An organization seeking support must be determined by the Internal Revenue Service to be tax-exempt under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. 
  • To receive Foundation support, an organization must be well managed, including an active board drawn from a cross-section of the community. It must have a consistent record of sound fiscal management and a demonstrated track record of efficient operations and effective programming. 
  • Organizations that rely heavily on government funding are eligible to apply, but must be able to demonstrate that a grant from the Foundation would supplement rather than supplant public funding.


  • New or recently formed organizations that have strong case statements and the above elements of sound management are encouraged to contact the Foundation for guidance.


  • Generally, support is not provided for:
    • Deficit funding
    • Individual scholarships or fellowships except within specific Foundation programs
    • Single-occurrence conferences, seminars, or workshops except as they relate to core operations improvement requests as defined above
    • Fundraising events, including annual dinners, tournaments, and the like
    • Endowments, except in rare cases
  • Private foundations, as defined in Section 509(a) of the Internal Revenue Code, are not eligible for Foundation support.
  • The Foundation does not make grants to governmental (public) institutions, agencies or projects. 
  • The Foundation does not make grants to:
    • Individuals
    • Religious organizations for sectarian or propagation of faith purposes
    • Organizations which make grants to others
    • Lobbying or advocacy for specific political candidates or legislation