Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation Arts and Culture Initiative Grants

All Disciplines
Organization Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation/Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo
Deadline September 15, 2023

In December 2021, the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation announced a gift to support arts and culture in the eight counties of Western New York, plus Monroe County, in recognition of the key role arts and culture organizations play in a thriving economy. Part of that announcement includes $500,000 in annual funding to be awarded primarily to support small to mid-sized arts and cultural organizations in the nine counties. The Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo is managing and operating the endowment and grants program. In early 2022, the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo has connected with, listened to and learned from over 100 representatives of arts and culture organizations, including arts councils, advocacy groups, nonprofits and funders from Allegany, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Erie, Genesee, Monroe, Niagara, Orleans and Wyoming counties. This included three listening sessions which were open to all arts and culture organizations in the nine counties.

As a result, in 2022, the Community Foundation launched the first application process of the Arts & Culture Initiative. In April 2023, a Director of Arts and Culture was hired to oversee this process and to develop a deeper understanding of the sector’s strengths and opportunities.

In August 2023, the second round of funding opportunities is open to arts and culture organizations with a budget of no more than $2 million in their Fiscal Year 2022. There are two opportunities available:

A single arts and culture nonprofit organization may apply for up to $15,000 for operating funding.
Multiple arts and culture organizations are encouraged to apply together for up to $25,000 to support collaborative efforts. Preference will be given to collaborations for which small to mid-size arts and culture organizations receive the majority of the funding requested. At least two collaborators must be arts and culture organizations.

For both opportunities, preference will be given to community-led organizations that are centered in the community. In the context of this initiative, the term “community” may refer to a range of shared connections from geographic proximity to shared identity. This initiative understands that the phrase “centered in the community” is dependent on multiple factors unique to each organization. Applicants are encourage to provide their own concept of “community-centering” within the broader context of their communities. Where applicable, applicants are encouraged to provide demographic information on income levels, race, ethnicity, gender, etc.

Small to mid-sized nonprofit organizations that have arts and culture as core to their mission.Exceptions may be made for the core mission in rural communities with limited independent arts and cultural organizations. Refer to the FAQ’s for more information on the exemption process.
Applicant organizations must be physically located in and/or operate in one or more of nine counties – Allegany, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Erie, Genesee, Monroe, Niagara, Orleans, Wyoming.
The 13 organizations named by the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation receiving direct, yearly funding are not eligible (see link for list).
Fiscal sponsorships are acceptable; the fiscal sponsor does not need to meet above criteria but the applicant organization does