OSC began charitable giving 23 years ago when the company was first formed. In 2014, the OSC Charitable Foundation was formed and Heather Williams became the first and current Executive Director of the foundation. Heather started off by meeting with every charity that we were currently supporting and working to understand their mission, the people and causes they serve, and the way in which the charity would steward the donated funds.
Initially, OSC’s philanthropy was not focused on specific groups or causes. The organizations that we supported approached the company through business relationships. We did not spend a lot of time vetting the organizations or understanding the impact and way in which they used our dollars to help those in their mission.
OSC was young and went through many uncertain periods and as such, our charitable giving followed the ebbs and flows of the company’s economic success and failures. In May of 2014, we made a conscious decision to formalize the way in which OSC supported charitable causes and to understand both from an administrative and financial standpoint the organizations that received funding. Along with creating the foundation, we dedicated a yearly commitment of funds that would be given out to the selected charities. The most important part of this effort was to have the new entity managed by a dedicated Executive Director who would not only maintain the various relationships with the selected organizations, but work on causes that we identified as important to both the community and OSC.
So in 2014, the OSC Charitable Foundation was formed and Heather Williams became the first and current Executive Director of the foundation. Heather started off by meeting with every charity that we were currently supporting and working to understand their mission, the people and causes they serve, and the way in which the charity would steward the donated funds. This effort resulted in the foundation breaking ties with about a 1/3 of the charities it supported and increasing significantly the support that went to the remaining charities. Over the course of the next two years, Heather added another 10 organizations to the list of charities that we support and established deeper relationships through committee and/or board participation, and networking with other Foundations to introduce them to these organizations. The Foundation focused its financial support to five areas: Educational, Religious, Health Related, Cultural, and Scientific Research Organizations, primarily in the Greater Buffalo/Niagara Region. Today the Foundation is working with about 110 individual organizations. Annual giving is about $300,000 and since the formation of the Foundation, we have donated roughly $1,600,000 to these organizations.
Heather spends a significant amount of her time on issues impacting the East Side of Buffalo… employment, employment training, and basic skills, including practical math, English, and writing. Another focus has really been to provide life skills for people and assistance in addressing hurdles to education and employment, such as childcare, mental health issues, and transportation. These efforts came together in 2017 when The OSC Charitable Foundation partnered with Catholic Charities Education and Work Force Development group. The Foundation constructed a new purpose-built 8,000 square foot administrative office and classroom space at 1001 East Delavan Ave. This location has a bus stop on the front of the property and is walking distance to many of the East Side neighborhoods. Today Catholic Charities serves thousands of individuals in need from this location. Through the newly formed East Delavan Academy, which is sponsored by The OSC Charitable Foundation, they are running two semesters of workforce training for construction trades per year. The training is specifically focused on employers who are looking for entry-level skills that will allow individuals to be successful in the workforce and find success in employment.
In 2018 The OSC Charitable Foundation partnered with Back to Basics Ministries to build a new location for the SNUG Program that they manage. The Foundation constructed 5,000 square feet of purpose-built offices and conference rooms to support the program and give it a location in the community that was accessible and physically connected to the resources that Catholic Charities has at the Workforce Training Center. Today, both organizations work together to help at-risk youth on Buffalo’s East Side to find support and a path to alternatives that are non-violent and educationally based. Heather works to find practical solutions that bring long term and meaningful change to these endemic social issues. She partners with individuals and organizations in these communities that are working with the individuals in need every day. The Foundation’s purpose is to help successful individuals and organizations extend their missions and help to bring more people in need out of poverty and into the economic system so that they find financial independence.
As we move forward, we hope to grow our positive impact on communities in need. Through each philanthropic investment, from Children’s Hospital and the Albright Knox Art Gallery to the BISON Children’s Scholarship Fund and our relationships on Buffalo’s East Side, we strive to connect people to experiences and opportunities that will help them develop a better life for themselves and their families.
The OSC Charitable Foundation
Jon M. Williams
Chief Executive Officer,
OSC Holdings, Inc.
Ontario Specialty Contracting, Inc.