As a Foundation rooted in our Founders’ hearts and vision for acting as a catalyst for change, the Board of the Marie C. and Joseph C. Wilson Foundation aligns with the goals of the global Black Lives Matter movement. We state, unequivocally, our commitment to racial equity, and we stand against all forms of racism, police brutality, and institutions that perpetuate racial injustice and inequity. With broken hearts, we express our sincere sympathies to the families and communities of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and far too many others whose names must not be forgotten.
Our family foundation, of which we are honored to lead, is made up of a majority white family seeing more diversity in our family tree over time. Many of us were born and raised in Rochester and some of us continue to call it home. Our common humanity compels us to ally with Black and Brown communities of Rochester: we see you, and we hear you.
We are grieved that, by many measures, Black communities in Rochester are struggling more than they were in the 1960s as experienced across housing, employment, health, or education. We add to the cry of these communities: “enough is enough.” And we stand with the Black community to condemn all forms of racism, police brutality, and unjust institutions. We demand measures to advance racial equity across all of Rochester, and the nation.
We know we need to do more to walk this walk as a longstanding, Rochester-focused philanthropic institution. Therefore, we commit to act from the following principles to advance racial equity:
- We will continue focusing our efforts on our mission of reducing the impact of trauma and housing instability on the youth and families of our community through the methods of collaboration, capacity building, prevention, and advocacy. In that way, we are aligned with the goals of Black Lives Matter and against systemic racism and the oppression of people because of the color of their skin.
- We commit to applying a racial equity lens in assessing our grantmaking documents and processes so that equity considerations bear on our decision making.
- We are continuing our support of the Rochester-Monroe Anti-Poverty Initiative (RMAPI), which brings together corporate, civic, political, and faith-based organizations to find solutions to Rochester’s endemic poverty pervading Black and Brown communities.
- We commit our time to community tables that take issues of equity and race into account so that community decisions do not disproportionately and negatively impact Black and Brown people.
- We will continue our exploration of how our investments align with our values. We recognize that economic opportunity is unequally distributed. Further, market forces have generated injustice and inequality using extractive and harmful practices. We are proactively seeking investment opportunities that create a social impact along with a financial return and will review our portfolio for investments that are in contradiction with our mission.
We feel strongly about taking bold action — now is the time to do so for dramatic transformation to take place. It is the right thing to do. We call on our Rochester-area peers, the foundations, businesses, health systems, not-for-profits, faith-based organizations, and every type of institution, to commit to advancing racial equity, and to align with the anti-poverty initiatives of RMAPI.
Jessa McIntosh, Board Co-Chair
R. Scott Wilson, Board Co-Chair
Wilson Foundation Board of Managers