The
Ralph C. Wilson, Jr.
Legacy Funds

Purpose

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: Caregiving, 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.

Background

“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.”

On November 18, 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.

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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:

  • Caregiving Fund: support for projects in 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. Grants will support specific program activities and small-scale capital needs such as equipment or field and stadium needs, and
  • 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.

People

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

Apply

Key Facts

  • Individual grants from each of the funds will typically range between $10,000 – $25,000. Grants from the Access and Design Fund may be up to $50,000.
  • Most grants will be for a 12-month period. However, applicants may identify other time frames that would be more beneficial to spend the grant over. For example, if it is more beneficial to the proposed project to spread the grant over an 18- or 24-month period, please simply state that in the application.
  • Projects that are innovative and fill critical community needs will be given the highest priority.
  • Low priority is given to requests for ongoing operational costs, capital campaigns, annual fund drives, conferences or other one-time events.
  • Some specific capital equipment, such as sports equipment for projects supported by the Youth Sports Fund, or medical equipment for projects supported by the Caregiving Fund, may be considered within a larger project scope.
  • Specific to the Caregiving Fund: The current goal of the Fund is to improve support for caregivers – whether paid or voluntary – through efforts that provide needed skills, resources, education and respite. Caregivers are those who look after dependent individuals such as children with special needs, disabled adults and older adults who require caregiving.  Projects supported through this fund should have a direct impact on caregivers.  In addition, the Fund will consider grants to programs that provide emotional care and supportive services to cancer patients as well as their caregivers.
  • Specific to the Design & Access Fund:  Support will be considered for pre-planning, development and /or construction costs of projects related to increasing the walkability and bikeability of local communities and/or increasing outdoor recreational activities within the region.  This purpose aims to increase the health and quality of life of local residents of all ages.  Waterways and greenways as well as recreation corridors are of interest. It is a preference, but not requirement that the projects:
    • Incorporate green design, to be environmentally sustainable, and
    • Incorporate universal access design, to best serve people of all abilities

    Large sports facilities are not of interest to this fund.  Playgrounds are only of interest if they utilize universal access design and are connected to larger recreation corridors within and between communities.

Who May Apply

Any 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, school or government in southeast Michigan may apply for a grant from the Caregiving Fund, the Design & Access Fund, or the Youth Sports Fund. Southeast Michigan is defined as the 7 counties of Wayne, Oakland, Macomb, Monroe, Washtenaw, St. Clair and Livingston.

Any 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, school or government located in the 5 Grosse Pointe communities of Michigan, defined as the City of Grosse Pointe, Grosse Pointe Farms, Grosse Pointe Park, Grosse Pointe Shores and Grosse Pointe Woods, may apply for a grant from the Grosse Pointe Community Assets Fund. In rare circumstances, organizations not located within the Grosse Pointes but serving their residents may also be considered.

No grants will be made to individuals.

How to Apply

The application process for these funds is expected to go live in November. Please come back to this page for detailed steps on how to apply at that time.

 

Contact

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

Surabhi Pandit

Senior Program Officer

313.961.6675, ext. 123

spandit@cfsem.org

Contact Surabhi if you have questions about applying to the Youth Sports Fund.

Tom Woiwode

Director,
GreenWays Initiative

313.961.6675, ext. 135

twoiwode@cfsem.org

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

Katie Brisson

Vice President
Program

313.961.6675, ext. 122

kbrisson@cfsem.org

Contact Katie if you have questions about applying
to the Wilson Caregiving or Wilson Grosse Pointe Fund.