The trustees of The Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation today released the organization's Mission Statement, outlining the vision of the organization as it was intended by its founder, the late Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. The Foundation was funded with $1.2 billion from the irrevocable trust created by Mr. Wilson, founder of the Buffalo Bills franchise, who passed away in March 2014.
Per Mr. Wilson's directive, the Foundation's $1.2 billion corpus, and related investment income, will be spent over the course of 20 years.
"Ralph saw firsthand the impact of his generosity in his lifetime," said Mary M. Wilson, wife of Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. "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."
Mr. Wilson made his home and, over the span of his long and storied career, owned and operated many businesses in Southeastern Michigan. He also grew very attached to the people of his adopted second home region of Western New York. Therefore, the Foundation and its Trustees have created a Mission Statement expressing the organization's intent to prioritize serving those regions.
The Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation will operate as a grant-making organization, dedicated primarily to sustained investment in the quality of life of the people of Western New York and Southeastern Michigan.
While Mr. Wilson chose not to restrict the discretion of the Foundation, its Trustees have identified priority areas based on Mr. Wilson's own personal passions and the causes that most resonated with him in his lifetime. These priorities include healthy lifestyles, early childhood and youth development, caregivers, community development and economic growth.
Formal, long-term grant cycles for the Foundation will begin in 2016. The Foundation developed a Transitional Legacy Program for 2015 under which it intends to award and fund approximately $60 million in grants. The grant recipient candidates for the Transitional Legacy Program have been pre-selected by the Trustees. No other grant applications are being considered for 2015. Official guidelines for applying for 2016 grants will be announced after the Foundation's program officers are in place.
The Foundation has now begun the process of assembling its staff. A search for a permanent President will begin shortly. Investments are being managed by three leading institutions under an outsourced Chief Investment Officer model. Following selection of a President, program officers and other staff will be recruited to build out the team. This process will continue to be overseen by the Foundation's four Life Trustees: Mary M. Wilson, Mary M. Owen, Jeffrey C. Littmann and Eugene Driker.
The Ralph C. Wilson, Jr., Foundation will continue to share information on its progress as it moves forward to make a powerful, positive difference, fitting of an organization that bears Ralph C. Wilson, Jr.'s name.