The Wilson Foundation will Work Harder for Racial Equity
Like so many in our community and nationwide, we, at the Wilson Foundation, were sickened to learn of the tragic and unnecessary death of Daniel Prude at the hands of Rochester police officers. We were outraged but not surprised because our country’s promise of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness is separated by a chasm based on race. We continue to work for the community to which we aspire: one that recognizes the need for transformative change to the systems that failed George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Daniel Prude, and countless, faceless others so that they recognize the dignity of every human being.
The public commitments we made to racial equity just three months ago, which we reaffirm mightily, have led us to take some significant actions to date. Specifically, we have
• undertaken an internal program of equity-focused training and leadership development;
• started an Internship program to bring a Rochester-based activist into our institution to help us deepen our inroads with
social justice activities while providing valuable professional experience to and mentoring of the Intern (recruitment in
• allocated resources to develop a table of youth funders in the city;
• set up our next grant round with equity considerations in focus; and
• launched a new investment portfolio screening process to identify and potentially eliminate holdings that raise significant
social and governance concerns, especially the equitable and fair treatment of workers.
The events in Rochester hit us hard. We recognize we need to do more. So we resolve to work harder, using our financial, human, and relational capital in aid of our mission area and to see racial equity finally established in Rochester systems, to the benefit of all. We continue to call on our peers to work together to do the same.Jessa McIntosh, Board Co-Chair
R. Scott Wilson, Board Co-Chair
Wilson Foundation Board of Managers
Who we Are
The vision of the Wilson Foundation is to act as a catalyst for change
Our mission is to work toward the single goal of reducing the impact of trauma and housing instability
on the youth and families of the Rochester area.
Joe and Peggy created the Foundation Early grants: University of Rochester; the Community Chest of Monroe County; St. Thomas More Church
Following the Riots of 1964,Grants to the United Negro College Fund; Ralph Bunche Scholarship; St. Martin de Porres Center in Rochester; NAACP; and the National Committee Against Discrimination in Housing
Funding for Diabetes research at Joslin Diabetes Center, totaling $1,639,150
Invested $720,000 in the Wilson Fellows Program at the University of Rochester for oncology research
Inspired by Warren Village in Denver, the Board agreed to explore creating a transitional housing model for women and children in Rochester
Wilson Commencement Park opened as the first transitional housing program for women and children in Rochester
Formation of Rochester Small Grants program, which to-date has giving over four million dollars to Rochester area non-profits.
Publication of the Replication Assessment for Wilson Commencement Park and A Transformational Housing Implementation Guide
Publication of the Wilson Commencement Park Alumni Study, revealing that 97% of former residents were stably housed several years after leaving the program
Funded the National Center on Family Homelessness’ policy work through the Campaign to End Child Homelessness
Support for the Looking Into Light traveling exhibit on family homelessness
SHIFT Study released, a longitudinal study of different housing models in Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse and Albany
In 1963, the Wilson Foundation was established by Joseph C. Wilson, then Chair of the Board of Xerox Corporation, and his wife, Peggy. As he shepherded his father's company, Haloid, from a small photographic paper manufacturer to the multi-national corporation Xerox, Joe Wilson developed a reputation as a thoughtful leader committed to addressing problems head-on. Peggy, who grew up in a large but poor Irish family, was always a champion of those in need.
Now in its fourth generation, the members of the Board of Managers honor the legacy of the founders while advancing their original intentions. Descendants of Joe and Peggy Wilson may be geographically dispersed, but work together in their legacy.
Before joining the Foundation, Junior oversaw personal support services at Monroe Community College and was their Project Director. Junior was attracted to the Foundation’s focus on addressing the root causes of trauma and investing in initiatives that enhance wellness. As a Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC), Junior provided care to children, families, and adults in outpatient, pediatrics, and educational settings. Junior has a varied background that spans multiple sectors. He is originally from the United Kingdom, where his work focused on engaging BIPOC youth in the British criminal justice system (CJS).
Junior earned his Ph.D. in Human Development and Education from the University of Rochester. His research focuses on educational equity, with close attention to culturally affirming asset-based practices that ameliorate academic struggle.
Prior to that time, Rachel worked as lawyer in Boston with experience in civil litigation, employment, and other areas of law. Her primary volunteer legal work today is focused on helping individuals seeking asylum in the United States, believing that the promise of this nation will not be fulfilled until we elevate the needs and experiences of the most vulnerable among us.
Rachel also volunteers with a housing-focused committee at the Rochester-Monroe Anti-Poverty Initiative, and an anti-racism committee at her church. She is also involved in various activities with her children’s school in the Rush-Henrietta district.
After graduating from Columbia College Chicago’s Cinema Arts and Science program, he became involved in the city’s art community as a freelance contract worker; he spent several years fostering relations with clientele by organizing teams of professionals, translating client instruction into practical outcomes, and by highlighting potential target audiences and finding effective methods to market final products.
During his time in Chicago, Zachary spent his free time campaigning for leaders of progressive legislation. He became more passionate about the purpose of his work and its potential limitations. While he believes that art has the power to educate and change hearts, he has shifted his focus towards more tangible vehicles for community change. Inspired by films like “A Short Film About Killing” -- instrumental in abolishing the Polish death penalty -- he continues to engage in the film industry creating ethical and activist focused artwork.
Work with us
Let’s work together to reduce the impact of trauma and housing instability on youth and families in our community. We welcome applications that fall into any of our areas of strategic focus: Capacity Building, Collaboration, Prevention, or Advocacy. Together we can be a catalyst for change.
As we progress and build on the momentum of our previous grant cycles, the Foundation will be less generalized and will place a concerted effort and greater investment in areas that align more closely with our values and goals. This new process will allow us to streamline our grants but amplify our impact in the Rochester community through deepening our relationships with organizations that are committed to building power for marginalized groups.
With an enhanced emphasis on racial equity, grants will be made in accordance with the Foundation’s strategic goal of reducing the impact of trauma and housing instability on youth and families in the Rochester, NY area. Funding will be awarded through four focus areas: Capacity Building, Collaboration, Prevention, and Advocacy.
Our grant application is currently closed. If you wish to be considered for a future invitation, please read our strategic grant-giving framework to verify if your organization or project is mission-aligned. At which point, you may reach out to our Senior Director of Programs, Junior Dillion to discuss your project in greater detail.
The Levels of Funding
Strategic Grants—Small (up to $10,000)
Strategic Grants—Large (10,000-$100,000)
Strategic Grants—Multi-Year (Suggested amount not to exceed $100,000 annually)
Eligibility and Grant Limitations
Funding is for registered 501 (c)3 organizations in the Rochester, NY area. Grants will not be made to individuals, partisan political organizations or to support lobbying efforts.
Prior to the receiving funding, grant recipients are required to sign a grant agreement contract. Each applicant must keep accurate records. A written progress report is required one (1) year following the date of the grant.Submit all proposals via the online application system
*Funding includes Trauma-Informed Care Learning collaborative, United Way Crisis response fund and Personal Protective Equipment funding for UR Medical Center.
The SHIFT study examined long-term outcomes of families in Rochester, Buffalo, Syracuse, and Albany residing in three types of housing programs: emergency shelter, transitional housing, and permanent supportive housing. It identifies trauma as pervasive among homeless mothers and is a predictor of unemployment, depression, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and long-term residential instability. Families are the fastest growing segment of the homeless population in the United States, approaching 40% of the total homeless population. View the Full Study from The National Center on Family Homelessness.
What the SHIFT Study Tells Us
Trauma symptom severity in mothers predicts long-term residential instability.
More than nine out of 10 mothers who participated in the survey had experienced at least one instance of trauma in their lives; 81% had experienced multiple traumas. The average number of traumatic events in a mother’s lifetime was three, with interpersonal violence being the most common type of trauma.
In addition to residential instability, trauma symptom severity predicts unemployment, depression, and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Roughly half of the mothers met the criteria for PTSD at baseline.
Maternal mental health problems in mothers that go untreated have implications for the long-term emotional and physical well-being of their children.
Twenty-five percent of the children had a medical condition or physical disability that affected ability to participate in usual childhood activities. Nearly one-third of mothers reported having a child with emotional and/or learning problems. Sixty-five percent of the children had conduct problems or hyperactivity; 40 percent had peer problems. Forty percent of mothers reported having a child live apart from her during the course of the study.
Why the SHIFT Study matters
Families are the fastest growing segment of the homeless population
In the United States, homeless families acounted for nearly 40% of the total homeless population. During the 2010-2011 and 2011-2012 school years, the U.S. Department of Education identified more than one million students as homeless.
A GROUND BREAKING ANALYSIS
The SHIFT Study is the first of its kind to link trauma symptom severity with long-term residential instability. It is also the first study to simultaneously compare outcomes from three housing types:
Emergency Shelter (ES)
All three housing programs had high rates of residential instability across the study
Emergency shelter had the highest rates of instability and was the most expensive program model.
WHAT THE SOLUTION LOOKS LIke
Programs such as Housing First and Rapid Re-Housing must provide families with tailored supports and services that address trauma to ensure their long-term housing stability.
Services should be easily accessible, avoid family separation, and not jeopardize housing due to substance use.
Services for children should assess and address children’s attachment, development, and behavioral issues.
Mothers need to be assessed for trauma histories and trauma symptom severity so those at greatest risk for residential instability can be identified to receive trauma services.
Trauma-informed care is something that all staff in an agency can implement not matter their education, training or clinical background. All homeless families need trauma-informed care.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the SHIFT Study?
The study examined long-term outcomes of families in Rochester, Buffalo, Syracuse, and Albany residing in three types of housing programs: emergency shelter, transitional housing, and permanent supportive housing. It is the first of its kind to identify trauma symptom severity as a predictor of residential instability.
What does the SHIFT Study tell us?
Many children struggled with physical and emotional problems, and poor child outcomes were predicted by maternal major depressive symptoms.
Why is the SHIFT Study important?
Families are the fastest growing segment of the homeless population in the United States, approaching 40% of the total homeless population. The SHIFT Study documents the characteristics of women and their children who are homeless, and identifies gaps in housing services that have important policy and practice implications
What are the SHIFT Study’s policy recommendation(s)?
Programs such as Housing First and Rapid Re-Housing must provide families with tailored supports and services that address trauma to ensure their long-term housing stability. Services should be easily accessible, avoid family separation, and not jeopardize housing due to substance use. Services for children should assess and address children’s attachment, development, and behavioral issues. Mothers need to be assessed for trauma histories and trauma symptom severity so those at greatest risk for residential instability can be identified to receive trauma services.
What was the SHIFT Study’s methodology?
The study was a longitudinal study that followed families for 30 months. Interviews were conducted with mothers at baseline (n = 292), 15 months (n = 200) and 30 months (n= 184).
When was the SHIFT Study conducted? Has the data changed since then?
The study was conducted from 2007 to 2010. Longitudinal studies of family homelessness are rare and have not followed participants for more than a year. The SHIFT Study is the only study that has information on homeless families over a 30 month period and is the most recent data in this field.
Where was the SHIFT Study conducted?
The SHIFT Study was conducted in four New York cities: Rochester, Buffalo, Syracuse and Albany. While the findings speak specifically to New York, the results can be extrapolated to mid-size cities across the country.
Who conducted the SHIFT Study? Who paid for the SHIFT Study?
The SHIFT Study was conducted by The National Center on Family Homelessness, now a practice area of American Institutes for Research’s Health and Social Development Program. The SHIFT Study was funded by the Wilson Foundation.
Who/What is the Wilson Foundation?
The Wilson Foundation was founded in 1963 by Marie C. and Joseph C. Wilson out of a deep sense of commitment to the Rochester, NY community and their desire to enhance the quality of life for its residents. The Foundation seeks to have a meaningful impact in the area of family homelessness and, to that end, has spearheaded the development of Wilson Commencement Park, a transitional housing program for low-income, single-parent families, and sponsored the SHIFT Study on residential stability in New York.
Who/What is American Institutes for Research?
American Institutes for Research (AIR) is one of the world’s largest nonprofit behavioral and social science research and evaluation organizations, founded in 1946. AIR’s mission is to conduct and apply the best behavioral and social science research and evaluation towards improving peoples’ lives, with a special emphasis on those who are disadvantaged.
Who/What is The National Council on Family Homelessness?
The National Center on Family Homelessness conducts state-of-the-art research and develops innovative solutions to end family homelessness in America and give every child a chance, founded in 1988. The National Center merged with American Institutes for Research in 2012 and became a practice area within its Health and Social Development Program.
Are the four cities in the SHIFT Study representative of the country as a whole? Can we draw national conclusions from this study?
Rochester, Buffalo, Syracuse, and Albany are representative of mid-sized cities nationwide. Findings from the SHIFT Study related to the prevalence of trauma in mothers have been documented by previous research, and provide an opportunity for a national policy discussion about how to design effective programs and services for families.
What is the connection between trauma and homelessness?
The SHIFT Study found that nine in ten homeless mothers in the study experienced at least one instance of trauma in their lives, 81 percent had experienced multiple traumas, and half met the criteria for PTSD. Trauma symptom severity in mothers predicted long-term residential instability. Trauma symptom severity also predicted unemployment, depression and PTSD. When trauma symptoms go untreated in mothers who are homeless, children are negatively impacted.
What is trauma-informed care?
Trauma-informed care is a strengths-based approach that emphasizes physical, psychological, and emotional safety for both survivors and providers across several organizational-level domains. Trauma-informed care is based on an understanding that recovery is possible for everyone. Service providers play a critical role in supporting recovery and minimizing risk of recreating traumatic experiences. Becoming trauma-informed requires a commitment to changing the practices, policies, and culture of an entire organization.
What are the three housing conditions evaluated in the SHIFT Study?
The SHIFT Study looked at: 1. emergency shelters, which provide temporary or transitional short-term shelter for families, 2. transitional housing, which provides housing and support services to facilitate movement to independent living within two years, and 3. permanent supportive housing, which provides long-term, community-based housing combined with supportive services for families with intense needs.
What percentage of the sample was in each of these housing conditions?
Forty-five percent of the sample was in emergency shelter, 41 percent in transitional housing, and 14 percent in permanent supportive housing.
What was the demographic profile of the mothers in the SHIFT Study?
Most mothers were in their early 20’s, never married, and with two or three children. The majority were African-American, one quarter were Caucasian, and 14 percent were Latina. Roughly 1/3 did not graduate from high school or obtain a GED, 1/3 graduated from high school or obtained a GED, and 1/3 had some college or a 2 year degree.
What is this tour?
The Wilson Foundation and several partners are coming together this summer in Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, Albany, and Washington, DC to share insights from the SHIFT Study and discuss effective strategies for combatting family homelessness. To make a significant difference in the area of family homelessness requires many people and organizations working together. This tour is a first step in that new, focused collaboration.
What are the goals of this tour?
The tour serves as a challenge to stakeholders in Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, and Albany to establish ‘community councils’ and set clear, actionable goals to help families achieve residential stability.
If meaningful impact in the area of family homelessness is to be made, it’s going to take many people and many organizations working together. If you are interested in joining our movement to coalesce organizations to help homeless families, contact us for more information.