Women's Business Center Awarded Grant from Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation

June 2, 2020


BUFFALO, NY – The Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation awarded the Women’s Business Center (WBC) at Canisius College a six-month, $47,000 grant to support small businesses harmed due to COVID-19.  The WBC will use the funding to expand capacity and provide additional technical assistance to women-owned businesses in Western New York.  Small businesses, more so women-owned small businesses, have been disproportionately harmed by the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic.  Many need additional assistance to develop recovery plans, to work through Small Business Administration funding opportunities, and to support their employees, among other issues. 

“The WBC has been supporting small, women-owned businesses in Western New York since 2004 and is committed to ramping up additional efforts to further support our community through this crisis and its aftermath,” says Sara L. Vescio, director of the WBC.  “We are grateful that the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation will partner with the WBC on this very important initiative.”

The Women’s Business Center at Canisius College empowers entrepreneurs to succeed and grow their businesses through education and engagement with and in the community.  The professionals at the WBC work with women business owners at every stage of their business growth to help them build relationships with experts and agencies in the area, and to bring a wide and strong network of support to the business owners.  It develops leaders by fostering opportunities and building collaboration.  As reported by the WBC in its 2018-2019 Impact Report, the center assisted 286 distinct clients that year, supported 363 jobs, helped launch 19 new businesses and contributed to $3.89 million in revenue growth.

The Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation is a grantmaking organization dedicated primarily to sustained investment in the quality of life of the people of Southeast Michigan and Western New York. The two areas reflect Ralph C. Wilson, Jr.’s devotion to his hometown of Detroit and greater Buffalo, home of his Buffalo Bills franchise. Prior to his passing in 2014, Mr. Wilson requested that a significant share of his estate be used to continue a life-long generosity of spirit by funding the Foundation that bears his name. The Foundation has a grantmaking capacity of $1.2 billion over a 20-year period, which expires January 8, 2035. This structure is consistent with Mr. Wilson’s desire for the Foundation’s impact to be immediate, substantial, measurable and overseen by those who knew him best. 

One of 27 Jesuit universities, Canisius is the premier private university in Western New York. Canisius celebrates its sesquicentennial anniversary during the 2019-20 academic year, marking 150 years of Jesuit education and leadership in the city of Buffalo and Western New York. Click here for more information about Canisius’ milestones and celebratory events.