In late 2021, the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation announced a nearly $100 million commitment to transform the financial strength and long-term viability of southeast Michigan’s arts and culture community through the establishment of programs and endowments with the Community Foundation.
The Wilson Foundation made the same investment in Western New York. There it also focuses grants to honor the wishes of its late namesake, Grosse Pointe businessman Ralph C. Wilson, Jr., who once owned the Buffalo Bills. Combined, the Foundation invested $200 million for arts and culture organizations.
This commitment is significant because, like others, arts and cultural organizations have been severely stressed because of the pandemic. They are also major contributors to a healthy local economy.
The Wilson Foundation investment in southeast Michigan includes endowments for 11 arts and culture organizations (listed at right), as well as $500,000 annually for support of local arts and culture organizations. In addition, funds are provided to build capacity of the arts and culture sector to advance inclusion and access.
Following the announcement, the Community Foundation partnered with CultureSource to launch a “Community Conversations” learning series, working with some of southeast Michigan’s arts and culture leaders who have been implementing efforts to embed inclusion into their programming. These sessions will serve to inform the grantmaking strategy to build capacity and adaptability for inclusive arts organizations.
The Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation exists because of Ralph Wilson, who wanted to make communities he cared about better. We salute and congratulate its board and staff for their vision to provide long-term support for the arts and culture organizations in our region.