Ralph C. Wilson, Jr.
Legacy Funds


The Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Legacy Funds were created to provide permanent, endowed support for programs and initiatives that reflect the personal passions of Mr. Wilson. Those areas of support are: Caregivers, Design & Access, Youth Sports, and Grosse Pointe Community Assets.

The grants made from these Community Foundation-based Funds are distinct from the grants made by the separate Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation. In most cases, the grants made from the Legacy Funds serve to support very localized projects across the seven-county region for which a small grant can make all the difference. In some cases, it may also provide an opportunity to test out ideas and programs on a smaller, pilot level.


“It fills our hearts to be able to continue Ralph's spirit of generosity that meant so much to him throughout his lifetime,” said Mary M. Wilson, wife of Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. “This legacy grant program is just the beginning of what we hope will be a lasting, positive impact in his name on southeastern Michigan.”

In 2015, The Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation announced a series of grants to fund projects and initiatives that reflect the personal passions of the late Ralph C. Wilson, Jr., a Detroit native and the founder and longtime owner of the Buffalo Bills professional football team.

The Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation is dedicated primarily to sustained investment in the quality of life of the people of southeastern Michigan and western New York, reflecting Mr. Wilson’s devotion to his hometown of Detroit and the people of greater Buffalo, home of his Bills franchise.  Among the grants announced were funds to create the permanent Legacy Funds at the Community Foundation, to align with some of the key priority areas of the Foundation in perpetuity.

The Community Foundation is honored that The Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation trustees, as part of their investments, have chosen to work with the Community Foundation in this way, to permanently support organizations and causes that Mr. Wilson cared about so deeply. The Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Funds support grants in four separate key areas that honor the lifetime interests of Mr. Wilson:

  • Caregivers Fund: support for projects within southeast Michigan that assist caregivers of persons who are unable to fully care for themselves and are part of an underserved community
  • Design & Access Fund: support for projects in southeast Michigan that serve to increase the walkability and bikeability of local communities and/or increasing outdoor recreational activities within the region
  • Youth Sports Fund: support for projects in southeast Michigan that bring high-quality sports programs to youth.
  • Grosse Pointe Community Assets Fund: support for projects of anchor nonprofit organizations that provide services and experiences to residents of the 5 Grosse Pointe communities, home to Mr. Wilson during his lifetime.

For the three funds that serve southeast Michigan, counties of interest include:  Wayne, Oakland, Macomb, Monroe, Washtenaw, St. Clair and Livingston Counties.


The four permanently endowed Legacy Funds were established at the Community Foundation by The Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation to honor Ralph’s memory in perpetuity.

The Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation Trustees are a dedicated group of community leaders and advocates who serve as advisors for the grant applications that are submitted:

Jeffrey C. Littmann – Chairman
David Colligan
Eugene Driker
W. Frank Fountain Jr.
Jerry Mazurkiewicz
Mary M. Owen
Mary M. Wilson


January 8, 2018: Application deadline! Completed proposals must be submitted via link below by 11:59pm.

Mid-May:  Grant Award and Decline Letters Will Be Mailed to All Applicants

June:  Grants Will Be Publicly Announced and Funded Projects Can Begin

How To Apply

Steps in applying to the Wilson Legacy Funds are as follows:


Each of the Wilson Legacy Funds has unique interests.  Please review the Grantmaking Guidelines to learn the key facts, and to get answers to our more frequently asked questions.

Review the Grant Guidelines

After reviewing these guidelines, potential applicants are strongly encouraged to contact the Community Foundation to discuss a proposed project before submitting a proposal.  Contacts for each Fund are listed below.


The checklist here outlines everything you will need to include in your application.  The primary focus here is what should be included in the narrative document, but it also outlines what attachments will be needed as well.

Review the Application Checklist


Once you’ve reviewed the grantmaking guidelines and spoken with a program officer, it’s time to start your grant application.

Start an Application


You can return to your application at any time via the link below.

Finish an Application

Stay Connected

Please use this form to stay connected with news about the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Legacy Funds.


If you have any questions, please feel free to contact:

Sarah Wedepohl

Senior Program Officer

313.961.6675, ext. 136

Contact Sarah if you have questions about applying
to the Youth Sports or Caregivers Fund.

Tom Woiwode

GreenWays Initiative

313.961.6675, ext. 135

Contact Tom if you have questions about applying to the Design & Access Fund.

Katie Brisson

Vice President

313.961.6675, ext. 122

Contact Katie if you have questions about applying
to the Grosse Pointe Community Assets.