About

Imagine the Possibilities

Some have said the disability rights movement is the last of the civil rights, and I don’t know if there is a ‘last’ but it’s time has certainly come and the voices of self-advocates are getting stronger. The Golisano Foundation is playing its part in that by aligning agencies and initiatives that support and are committed to inclusion.”

--Tom Golisano

Tom Golisano with Special Olympics Chief Inspiration Officer Loretta Claiborne and International Global Messenger Matthew Williams
Photo: Tom Golisano with Special Olympics Chief Inspiration Officer Loretta Claiborne and International Global Messenger Matthew Williams in 2013.

When people say it can’t be done, Tom Golisano, entrepreneur, civic leader, philanthropist and the founder and Chairman of Paychex, will not only find a way, he often finds a better way. 

Tom envisioned a better world for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) and founded the Golisano Foundation in 1985 with an initial gift of $90,000. This was a cause very close to his heart - to ensure that individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities are valued as people who can contribute and be a vital part of our community - as good students, good neighbors and good workers.

His vision and commitment made something extraordinary possible. 

Tom imagined the possibilities and became an advocate and ally for families, fighting for their dignity and giving people with IDD the opportunity to thrive in their communities.  Few could have imagined how the Foundation’s work would grow and touch the hearts and lives of so many.

The Golisano Foundation is now one of the largest private foundations in the nation devoted exclusively to opening doors to opportunity, changing negative perceptions and stereotypes, and forging unprecedented partnerships to ensure individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities have pathways to personal dignity, independence and the best possible expression of their abilities and talents throughout their lifetimes.

With more than $40 million in gross assets, we have awarded more than $24 million in grants, about $2 million annually, to non-profit organizations in Western NY and New York's Finger Lakes Region and Southwest Florida.

We incorporate Tom Golisano's entrepreneurial and optimistic energy into to every endeavor and encourage others to Imagine the Possibilities along with us. 

A Catalyst for Transformation

Golisano Foundation Trustees Phil DiPasquale, Chuck Graham, and David Still, Foundation Director Ann Costello, and Trustee Jim Murray at Golisano Autism Center joint board meeting, Apr 10, 2018.

Photo: (l to r) Golisano Foundation Trustees Phil DiPasquale, Chuck Graham, and David Still, Foundation Director Ann Costello, and Trustee Jim Murray at Golisano Autism Center joint board meeting, Apr 10, 2018.

Through our targeted initiatives, it is our vision that communities will embrace inclusion and acceptance, and create opportunity for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities; and provide services that empower individuals to make their way productively and creatively in their communities.

In addition to providing funding, the Golisano Foundation also serves as a proactive partner with organizations and institutions, working together to promote acceptance and inclusion in the community and workplace.  The Foundation assists with strategies to create a better understanding of the contributions people with IDD make to their communities and deliver services in ways that create more opportunities for meaningful participation in all aspects of community life.