Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation Grant

Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation

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

Deadline: Rolling

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

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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

Children & Youth

For kids, we’re looking for opportunities beyond K-12 education to provide more pathways to success. Here, we focus on strengthening young minds and bodies with early childhood initiatives; afterschool programs; and youth sports and recreation programs.

Young Adults and Working Families

Often weighed down by heavy demands and limited resources, working families and young adults can often miss out on career opportunities. We will invest in skills training and education that can lead to sustainable career pathways and good paying jobs.


The role of caregiver can be rewarding as well as demanding and overwhelming. Here, we support and honor those who care for others – whether family members, friends or professionals – through efforts that provide needed skills, resources, education and respite. Early opportunities will focus primarily on those caring for older adults.

Livable Communities

To contribute to strong and sustainable communities, we seek opportunities to invest in: parks, trails and green design; nonprofit support and innovation; and entrepreneurship and economic development levers that spur regional growth, innovation and equity.

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.