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Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation announces partners

Jennifer Chambers
The Detroit News

The Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan and the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo will help advise the metro Detroit-based Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation by providing local insight and making connections with other regional grant-makers.

Officials with the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation made the announcement Wednesday, along with other news that J.P. Morgan, The Northern Trust Company and Graystone Consulting were chosen as partner institutions that will provide support to the foundation.

Wilson, a native Detroiter, died in March at 95. He founded the Buffalo Bills football team in 1959. His estate sold the franchise in 2014 for $1.4 billion. He also owned manufacturing, mining, insurance and other businesses.

The foundation was funded with $1.2 billion from an irrevocable trust created by Wilson, who directed the money and its investment income be spent over the course of 20 years.

“We are mindful of the short life of the Foundation and do not take lightly the trust that Ralph placed in us to be stewards of this part of his legacy,” Mary M. Wilson, wife of the late Ralph C. Wilson, Jr., said in a statement.

Koya Leadership Partners has been hired by the foundation to recruit a president.

Based in Grosse Pointe Farms, the foundation will operate as a grant-making organization dedicated to the people of southeast Michigan and western New York.

Formal, long-term grant cycles for the foundation will begin in 2016, officials said. Guidelines for applying for 2016 grants will be announced after the foundation's program officers are in place.

For 2015, the foundation developed a transition program that will award and fund about $60 million in grants, according to a news release from the foundation. Grant recipient candidates have been preselected by the trustees.

JChambers@detroitnews.com