In 1951, Welles V. Moot, Sr., legal advisor to the Wildroot Company, manufacturer of Wildroot Cream Oil Hair Tonic, supported the kindness and vision of Hoyt Sheehan, a 20% owner of the company, by setting up the Wildroot Foundation with $200,000 of Sheehan's Wildroot Company stock. By the end of 1959, when Colgate Palmolive bought Wildroot, the stock purchase itself and the prior eight year growth of the initial capitalization had swelled the foundation's assets to $2,226,000.
Through astute subsequent investment of these Foundation's assets, the renamed Western New York Foundation began 50 plus years of support for the entire WNY non-profit community including Erie, Genesee, Cattaraugus, Wyoming, Niagara, and Allegany. Over the last half century, the Foundation has made thousands of grants totaling about $15 million.
In 1951, Welles Moot, Sr. was actively engaged in the practice of law and had little time to run the newly established Wildroot charitable foundation. He turned to his oldest son, Welles V. Moot, Jr., to do so.
And joined by Welles Jr.'s sister, Cecily, and brothers, John and Richard, the four siblings have, in concert with other local and out-of-town trustees, provided a history of wise and generous leadership on behalf of a community they all love and which they feel has been very good to them. We value the friendship and commitment of these four remarkable people to our foundation.
Grants have been given to a wide range of educational, cultural, social service and other compelling community institutions and initiatives as demonstrated in our Annual Reports.
In addition, the WNY Foundation has, over the years and when circumstance appeared to dictate, attempted to be pro-active and convene fellow foundations in support of compelling community challenges and solutions. As a mid-size foundation, the WNY Foundation generally makes grants in the $5,000 to $50,000 range and where they feel they can make a difference.
The Foundation transitioned to hiring an Executive Director, Beth Gosch, in 2007. The presidency rotates among local trustees who are expected to provide active knowledge of and engagement in the non- profit WNY community.
Local trustees will continue to work with the next generation of the Moot family to address the continuing work of the foundation and maintain the same commitment exhibited by their older mentors. All trustees serve without compensation.
The WNY Foundation has an office at 11 Summer Street, Buffalo, New York 14209 and its board meets two times a year to consider grant applicants which meet their guidelines and are located within the seven counties of Western New York.