Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo

The Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation Announces $7M in Gifts Through Community Foundation

Nov 24, 2015 | Posted in News

Buffalo, NY – The Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation announced today $7 million in gifts through the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo as part of their 2015 Transitional Legacy Grant Program. This is the largest gift announcement in Western New York to date for the Foundation, which was established through the generosity and visionary leadership of the late Ralph C. Wilson, Jr.

The six legacy gifts announced today will be established as endowments at the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo and will provide annual support forever to three areas of interest that were important to Mr. Wilson: cancer care; community assets; and youth sports. Additionally, endowments will be set up for Hunter’s Hope, The Western New York Amateur Football Alliance and the Community Foundation’s leadership work. These endowments will provide a sustainable stream of funding for the causes and organizations that meant so much to Mr. Wilson, as well as ensure his name and legacy will be carried on forever.

“We are pleased to announce that The Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation has established multiple endowments through the Community Foundation to support causes and organizations that were near and dear to my husband during his lifetime,” said Mary Wilson, Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation Life Trustee. “By partnering with an organization that has deep local knowledge of the community, as well as a trusted history of honoring donor intent, together we will do more to make a difference in the lives of people in Western New York.”

The Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation, Life Trustees have established three endowments at the Community Foundation totaling $5 million to benefit causes that were important to Mr. Wilson including cancer care, community assets and youth sports. A competitive grant process, managed by the Community Foundation, will begin in 2016 and will provide funding to organizations with a mission that aligns with one of these three interest areas. More information on the grant process is available at:

The Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation will also be providing a $1 million gift to the Community Foundation to advance its mission and support continued leadership in the community.

“We are honored to be expanding our philanthropic partnership with The Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation and to play a role in connecting the philanthropic vision of Mr. Wilson with people, ideas and resources to improve lives in Western New York,” said Clotilde Perez-Bode Dedecker, President andCEO of the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo. “Our organization admires the four Life Trustees for the thorough and thoughtful process they have undertaken to honor the extraordinary generosity and visionary leadership of Mr. Wilson to support the communities he cared deeply about.”

Additionally, organization endowment funds have been set up at the Community Foundation to benefit two Western New York nonprofits that were important to Mr. Wilson. The first $500,000 endowment will benefit Hunter’s Hope, which was started by former star quarterback of the Buffalo Bills, Jim Kelly and his wife, Jill. In 1997, Jim and Jill’s son Hunter (2/14/97 – 8/05/05) was diagnosed with Krabbe Leukodystrophy and the couple struggled to find information and support to deal with the devastating diagnosis, which inspired them to start Hunter’s Hope. The organization has made tremendous strides to fund leukodystrophy research, advocate for expanded newborn screening and support those afflicted and their families as they struggle to endure, adjust, and cope with the demands of these fatal illnesses.

“Mr. Wilson has been a huge blessing in my life and in the lives of so many others. I am deeply grateful that his legacy will be continued along with my son, Hunter’s, through this generous donation to Hunter’s Hope,” said Jim Kelly, Co-Founder of Hunter’s Hope Foundation. “Countless children affected by Leukodystrophies will have access to medically necessary items for years to come through the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Wish Gift program. I’m so grateful to Mrs. Wilson and the rest of The Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation’s board for entrusting us with this tremendous contribution.”

A second $500,000 endowment will benefit the Western New York Amateur Football Alliance. The Alliance strives to open lines of communication among all the Youth Leagues in the Western New York area in an effort to create and sustain safe environments of fair play and sportsmanship.

“Our entire organization is truly grateful for the gift we are receiving from The Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation because it will allow us to work toward our mission of promoting a safe environment and positive sportsmanship for youth football in Western New York for future players,” said Tim Jerome, Western New York Amateur Football Alliance Board President. “By establishing this endowment, we will receive funding each year in Mr. Wilson’s memory to support youth who love football and want to have fun playing it.”

The Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation also recently announced the appointment of a new President and CEO. David Egner will lead the $1.2 billion foundation and will be based in Detroit, MI. Egner has 25 years of experience in foundation management, including posts at the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and the Hudson-Webber Foundation, where he served as President and CEO since 1997. He also served in a dual role since 2009 as executive director of the New Economy Initiative for Southeast Michigan, a $135 million funder collaborative charged with driving economic growth through entrepreneurship and small business development.

To date, The Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation has provided more than $19 million in gifts to support organizations in Western New York.

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