DETROIT — A charitable foundation that was created after longtime Buffalo Bills owner Ralph Wilson died will begin accepting applications for $1.2 billion it plans to give away over the next 20 years in the upstate New York city and his hometown of Detroit.

The money comes from the sale of the Bills following Wilson’s 2014 death at age 95 at his home in Grosse Pointe Shores.

David Egner, the president and CEO of the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation, said it has been focused on planning, hiring, and developing its operating policies. The 10-person staff is looking for ways to have an impact. It will begin accepting applications on Monday.

“We’re building strategy as we go,” Egner told the Detroit Free Press reported ( ). “Early on, we’ll be doing a lot of pilots and experiments and trying to find things to educate ourselves as well as things that make a difference in the community.”

The foundation will partner with others on projects of mutual interest, Egner said.

“Those foundations have not only found their mark and what they want to do but they’re acting collaboratively,” Egner said. “It leads to greater knowledge but it also leads to a lot of activity that wouldn’t be in place if we were just writing checks.”

Wilson directed the money go to the two cities where he devoted his energies and in four areas of his particular interest: children and youth; young adults and working-class families; caregivers who help others in need; and what he called “healthy communities,” as defined by economic development and nonprofit productivity and innovation.

The foundation staff is looking ahead to moving to Detroit’s New Center district next year from its tiny suite of offices in Grosse Pointe.


Information from: Detroit Free Press,