The foundation created by the late Ralph C. Wilson, Jr., longtime owner of the NFL's Buffalo Bills franchise, plans to dedicate more than $1.2 billion over the next twenty years to "sustained investment in the quality of life of the people of western New York and southeastern Michigan," the Buffalo News reports.
According to a mission statement released this week, the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation will focus its grantmaking on five causes that resonated with Wilson in his lifetime — healthy lifestyles; early childhood and youth development; education, training, and success for young adults and working-class families; education, training, and support for caregivers; and community development, regional economic growth, and nonprofit sector productivity. While the foundation plans to introduce regular grant cycles in 2016, it will award approximately $60 million in grants this year through a Transitional Legacy Program to organizations that have been pre-selected by its trustees. Application guidelines for 2016 grants will be announced after the foundation's program officers are in place. The foundation has begun to hire staff and has launched a search for a permanent president.
Wilson, who established the foundation with $1.2 billion from an irrevocable trust created after the sale of the Bills, directed that the money and investment income be spent down over a period of twenty years. "This time frame was established so that the organization's impact will be immediate, substantial, and measurable," a foundation spokesperson told the Buffalo News.
"Ralph saw firsthand the impact of his generosity in his lifetime," said Mary M. Wilson, Ralph Wilson 's widow. "Always thinking of others even in his own legacy, his hope with this trust was that the foundation's work may make a direct impact in the lifetimes of those who knew him best."