Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation Grant

Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation

Suggest an update

Deadline: Rolling

Grant amount: US $25,000 - US $6,000,000

Fields of work: Vocational & Trade Education Economic Services & Development Entrepreneurship Volunteerism & Philanthropy Green Infrastructure Parks & Public Spaces Trail Creation & Maintenance Adult Education Workforce Preparation & Job Readiness Caregiver Support / Respite Care Sports & Athletics Show all

Applicant type: Nonprofit

Funding uses: Education / Outreach, Project / Program

Location of project: Counties in Michigan: Livingston County, Macomb County, Monroe County, Oakland County, St. Clair County Show all

Location of residency: Counties in Michigan: Livingston County, Macomb County, Monroe County, Oakland County, St. Clair County Show all

View website    Save

About this funder:



Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation

Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. believed effective change should make an impact from the start, yet carry long into the future. To do both, he earmarked a portion of his estate and the eventual sale of his beloved Buffalo Bills to fund his namesake foundation. The Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation began operations in 2015 to continue his legacy—one of generosity and innovation, healthy risk taking and collaboration, and an unshakeable community focus.

And today, his hand-picked Life Trustees have determined to focus the efforts of the foundation on Mr. Wilson’s home and adopted home regions of Southeast Michigan and Western New York.

With a structure that dictates spend-down of our funds by 2035, we match the urgency that people in need feel every day and focus on collaborative investments that consider both immediate impact and long-term benefit.

Our time is short. But with collaboration, vision and a healthy dash of courage, transformation that shifts the very foundations of our communities is possible.

Our 4 Key Areas of Focused Investment

Active Lifestyles

By supporting access to safe spaces and programs that get kids physically active and moving, the Foundation aims to introduce lifelong healthy habits through its Youth Sports & Recreation grantmaking. Spanning all generations, the Foundation’s investments in Parks, Trails & Green Design looks to connect people and communities to each other, nature and recreation.

Preparing for Success

Strong work ethic, confidence and a desire to learn are attributes that can be instilled at a young age and carried through adulthood. Our Preparing for Success focus area is centered on providing the communication, teamwork and critical-thinking skills people need to grow and adapt throughout their life and career.


There are more than 40 million family members - spouses, daughters, sons, grandchildren - and friends in the United States caring for older adults, a number that will grow dramatically in the coming years. The Foundation aims to elevate caregivers’ critical roles by highlighting the often-hidden value and contributions they make to families and communities every day.  

Entrepreneurship & Economic Development

Several years into recovery after a decades-long economic slide in both Southeast Michigan and Western New York, the Foundation’s investments in Entrepreneurship and Economic Development look to leverage this momentum by spurring small business growth, place-based community and economic development, and talent attraction and retention. 

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


  • The Foundation concentrates its giving within Southeast Michigan and Western New York. Southeast Michigan is defined as Wayne, Oakland, Macomb, Monroe, Washtenaw, St. Clair and Livingston counties. Western New York is defined as Allegany, Chautauqua, Cattaraugus, Erie, Genesee, Monroe, Niagara, Orleans and Wyoming counties.
  • The Foundation desires to identify and encourage projects that have significant potential for resolving important problems and needs in the Southeast Michigan and Western New York regions.
  • The Foundation may make grants to tax exempt intermediary organizations for programs that do not have tax exempt, non-private foundation status and/or in cases where program and fiscal oversight services are desired. In such cases, the tax-exempt intermediary organizations will have discretion to disburse the funds granted to accomplish the program purposes, including selection of third–party donors.


  • The Foundation is particularly interested in projects that are creative and visionary, bold and dynamic, as well as feasible and realistic. The Foundation acknowledges that some experiments may not succeed, but prefers the risks involved in the new methods and approaches as opposed to the resolute acceptance of the status quo. The Foundation desires to support projects that offer substantial leverage and trendsetting opportunities.
  • The Foundation prefers to support established organizations that have a record of success. On occasion, however, the Foundation will support a new organization where it is believed that no established organization is appropriate to fulfill a needed service for the community.
  • The Foundation likes to encourage coalition efforts of agencies addressing significant community problems of mutual concern.


  • No grant is made which can be construed to be a taxable expenditure as defined in Section 4945 of the Internal Revenue Code, or in other current rules or regulations.
  • The Foundation does not make grants to individuals, fundraising social events, conferences or exhibits. 
  • In order to maintain flexibility to continuously permit positive response to emerging programs of importance, the Foundation does not typically make grant commitments extending more than five years from any point in time.