Ball Brothers Foundation Awards Over $6 Million in Grants to Support Education, Workforce Development, and More 

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By Melissa Jones—

Muncie, INIn its final round of grants for the year, Ball Brothers Foundation awarded more than $6 million to local nonprofits, schools, workforce development organizations and other entities, demonstrating the foundation’s commitment to helping local organizations adapt to new circumstances during the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as preserving and improving the community’s quality of life well into the future. 

While Ball Brothers Foundation has awarded numerous COVID-19 emergency/crisis grants—totaling nearly $500,000 to date—throughout the year, this latest round of grants also addresses long-term community needs. 

“Even throughout the pandemic, our board remains keenly aware of our long-term commitments to improving the quality of life in Muncie and Delaware County,” said Jud Fisher, president and chief operating officer of Ball Brothers Foundation. “During our October board meeting, the board considered a range of requests that address immediate needs as well as projects that pave the way for a brighter future.” 

The foundation regularly provides funding for arts, culture, and humanities; education; environment; health; human services; and public society benefit. This last round of grants placed special emphasis on education, with funding designed to help local childcare agencies, schools and universities adapt to changes brought on by the COVID pandemic and to help strengthen these institutions for the future. 

“In considering the factors that contribute to a strong, desirable community, education plays one of the most critical roles,” Fisher said. “Investing in quality education is important to ensure the future vitality of Muncie, Delaware County and East Central Indiana.” 

As part of this investment in education, the foundation awarded multi-year funding totaling $2 million to the Ball State University Foundation. The funding includes $1.8 million to be used to allow the university to innovate and to take advantage of unique future opportunities that align with its strategic plan, all to promote continuous advancements in education. The remaining $200,000 will support the Mearns-Proud Scholarship program that was created by President Geoffrey S. Mearns and his wife, Jennifer, in 2017 to provide scholarships to first-generation students from Muncie Community Schools who attend Ball State. 

This funding—one of the largest grants made in Ball Brothers Foundation’s history—demonstrates the foundation’s unwavering commitment to the university. 

“In 1918, during the last global pandemic, the Ball brothers gifted the land that became Ball State University. Today, during another global pandemic, we continue to share this belief that education has the power to transform the lives of individuals and this community,” Fisher said. “We believe the future of Ball State and the future of Muncie are inextricably linked.” 

Also included in the foundation’s range of education-focused grants was funding to Muncie Community Schools and Burris Laboratory School. 

For the past few years, Ball Brothers Foundation has dedicated significant grantmaking dollars to MCS and Burris—two public districts in the heart of the city—with a specific focus on promoting innovation and continuous improvement. In 2020, funding—$470,000 to MCS and $200,000 to Burris—is designed to help the two districts continue to build on past momentum and support their changing needs during the COVID pandemic. 

More specifically, the funding to MCS supports culturally relevant and responsive curriculum and instructional tools, improvements at Camp Adventure to better accommodate outdoor learning, the expansion and marketing of Career and Technical Education courses, and more. 

“We can’t thank Ball Brothers Foundation enough for their ongoing support of Muncie Community Schools,” said Lee Ann Kwiatkowski, director of public education/chief executive officer of Muncie Community Schools. “These funds are going to allow us to continue moving the district forward in several much-needed areas that will enhance our students’ learning experience for many years.” 

The remainder of Ball Brothers Foundation’s more than $6 million in recent grants is distributed as follows: 

Investing in education as a key piece to future community vitality: 

• Local childcare centers: o Destiny Christian: $10,000 to support staff recruitment and retention as well as the hiring of a Behavioral Specialist 

• Glad Tidings Kids: $10,000 for new playground equipment for children ages 6 months to 2 years 

• Huffer Memorial Children’s Center: $15,000 for new entry doors and enhanced security 

• United Day Care Center: $15,000 for improvements to outdoor learning spaces 

• YMCA-Mitchell Early Learning Center: $15,000 for costs related to cleaning supplies, staffing and equipment 

Public education: The Community Foundation of Muncie & Delaware County: $25,000 will support a shared fund to help meet technology needs for Delaware County K–12 public schools during fall/winter as districts address remote learning needs  

Strengthening local nonprofit organizations: 

The Community Foundation of Muncie & Delaware County: $50,000 to support the expansion of fundraising training and strengthening programs for local nonprofit organizations, including allowing for a cohort of local nonprofit leaders to participate in an intensive fundraising course in partnership with The Fundraising School in 2021 

Supporting arts & culture organizations during turbulent times: 

Cornerstone Center for the Arts: $100,000 for operating costs and building maintenance 

Minnetrista: $2,700,000 for 2021 operating costs and capital projects 

Muncie Arts & Culture Council: $15,000 for operating costs and the Box! Box! program 

Muncie Symphony Orchestra: $30,000 to offset operating costs for the 2020-2021 season 

Addressing water quality and access to local waterways: 

Delaware County Soil & Water Conservation District: $25,000 in matching support will help fund the Upper White River Watershed Management Plan, which includes conducting a water quality monitoring program and providing educational events for the public 

The Nature Conservancy: $30,000 to support freshwater conservation work in the headwaters of the Upper White River Watershed, including the completion of a gap analysis, production of videos focused on conservation efforts in the region, and hosting a citizen volunteer water sampling (“BioBlitz”) 

Bolstering healthcare education and equipping healthcare providers: 

Luke Bracken Wiese Fund for Juvenile Diabetes at Riley Hospital for Children: $100,000 for purchase of equipment to support the Pediatric Diabetes Research Group’s work to improve interventions and treatment for children who have or are at risk of having Type 1 diabetes 

Optimus Primary programs, which focus on healthcare training and retention: Ball State University: $40,000 for the expansion of dedicated housing for medical students and extension of impact of BSU/IU School of Medicine–Muncie’s “Healthy Lifestyle Center” student-run clinic 

• IU School of Medicine-Muncie: $40,000 to support programmatic elements of expanded housing for medical students, marketing of new Bachelors-to-MD program in partnership with BSU, and development of a strategic plan to better align IUSM–M with IU Health Ball Memorial’s Residency Program. 

• IU Health Foundation: $40,000 for purchase and integration of Point-of-Care ultrasound technology and expansion of Wellness programs for residency training at IU Health Ball Memorial Hospital 

• Ivy Tech: $40,000 to support the creation of a new associate degree program in Diagnostic Medical Sonography 

Supporting vital human services: 

Inside Out: $75,000 for installation and maintenance of a generator that will safeguard food and operations in the event of a power outage and allow Inside Out to provide meals to first responders and community members in the event of a local disaster or crisis 

Second Harvest: $40,000 to support engineering and construction planning to increase freezer/cooler capacity 

Advancing the local workforce:

ECI Regional Partnership: $75,000 to support operations and to expand regional marketing efforts focused on talent retention and attraction 

ecoRehab: $50,000 for operations and piloting of new “STEP” construction job-training program for at-risk individuals 

Innovation Connector: $50,000 for operations 

Purdue Polytechnic: $30,000 to support middle/high school STEAM exploration, robotics leagues, dual credit classes, community workshops, and customized workforce training in Purdue Polytechnic’s classroom and technology lab located at MadJax in downtown Muncie 

Encouraging neighborhood revitalization and community cohesion: 

Greater Muncie, IN Habitat for Humanity: $45,000 to support operations and programs of the 8twelve Coalition 

Muncie Sports Commission: $35,000 for operations, costs associated with the organization’s restructuring, including marketing and branding, and improvements at the Muncie SportsPlex 

As the COVID pandemic continues, Ball Brothers Foundation will continue to award emergency/crisis funding to organizations on the front lines of the COVID response. 

Preliminary applications for the foundation’s next round of grants (to be awarded in the spring) will be accepted starting Jan. 1 and are due Feb. 15. For more information on Ball Brothers Foundation grants, visit 

About Ball Brothers Foundation 

Ball Brothers Foundation is one of the state’s oldest and largest family foundations. Annually, the foundation makes approximately $8 million in grants to support arts and culture, education, the environment, health, human services, and public affairs. The Muncie-based private foundation gives priority to projects and programs that improve the quality of life in the foundation’s home city, county and state. 

Additional information on Ball Brothers Foundation’s response to COVID-19 needs: 

“Ball Brothers Foundation Expedites Funding for COVID-19 Front-Line Responders” 

“Ball Brothers Foundation Awards $75,000 to Local Hospitals, Continues COVID-19 Support for Front-Line Workers” 

“BBF Awards Special Funding to Support BSU and Ivy Tech COVID Efforts”