Ball Brothers Foundation Announces Funding Opportunities for Local School Districts

Ball Associates Building Mural at 222 S. Mulberry Street. (East side of the building.) Photo by: Mike RhodesBall Associates Building Mural at 222 S. Mulberry Street.

By: Jud Fisher—

Muncie, IN—Ball Brothers Foundation has invited eight school districts in Delaware County to apply for special funding in 2018 to make school-wide and district-wide improvements and innovations. The funding invitation is an expansion of grants made over the past several years to Muncie Community Schools and Burris Laboratory School.

“In considering the factors that contribute to a strong, desirable community, education plays a critical role. Good schools are necessary for helping young adults gain the tools and resources that they need to develop into contributing members of society, but they are also important for attracting and retaining a quality workforce,” commented BBF President and COO, Jud Fisher, in describing the Foundation’s philosophy.  “As businesses consider where they will locate and as families consider where they will live and work, the quality of schools is, undeniably, a determining factor. Investing in quality education is important to ensure the future vitality of Delaware County and East Central Indiana.”

BBF recognizes that districts face a myriad of challenges including changes to school funding formulas, competing demands on teachers’ and administrators’ time, and increasingly complex student needs. These challenges can make it difficult for districts to innovate and to provide the “margins of excellence” that can greatly enhance classroom teaching, extracurricular experiences for students, and the overall quality of education.

Over the past four years, BBF has concentrated its K-12 grantmaking on the two school systems in the core of the city—Muncie Community Schools and Burris Laboratory School. Grant funding allowed both institutions to develop new courses, purchase new technology for students, create orientation and mentoring programs for new faculty, provide teachers with enhanced professional development opportunities, make minor facility improvements, and enhance extracurricular activities for students, among other enhancements.

“It has been heartening to see how grants to MCS and Burris have directly impacted students as funding has helped teachers and administrators to innovate and make needed improvements. We are excited to expand these opportunities to additional schools in 2018 through our competitive grant process,” shared Fisher.

Schools invited to apply for “Innovation and Improvement Supports” in 2018 include: Daleville Community Schools, Delaware Community Schools, Cowan Community Schools, Liberty Perry School Corporation, Yorktown Community Schools, and Wes-Del Community Schools. Muncie Community Schools and Burris Laboratory School have also been invited to apply for continued funding. Proposals will be considered during the foundation’s first grantmaking round of 2018.

Additionally, BBF is also offering an opportunity for public schools in Delaware County to nominate teachers for the foundation’s sixth annual “Excellence in Teaching Award.” The award recognizes teachers who bring innovation, enthusiasm, and 21st century skills to their classrooms. The top honor includes a $15,000 grant to promote innovation in the winning teacher’s district, school, and classroom.

Each district develops its own selection process and can submit two nominations. Nominees must have at least three years of experience and be currently teaching in a K-12 classroom. Nominations from districts are due Thursday, February 1.

Nominations are reviewed by an expert panel of judges. Judges for the 2018 award include Dr. Patricia Clark, chair of Ball State University’s Department of Elementary Education; Gary Pavlechko, director of teaching technology in the Office of Educational Excellence at Ball State University; Kate Love-Jacobson, coordinator with the City of Fort Wayne and consultant with High Performance Government Network; Dale Basham, veteran educator and former school administrator; and Dr. Neil Schmottlach, who retired from Ball Brothers Foundation in 2014.

Previous Excellence in Teaching Award winners include: Chris Holdren (Liberty Perry School Corporation), Steve Spradlin (Muncie Community Schools), Renee Huffman (Burris Laboratory School), Julian Ravenscroft (Daleville Community Schools), and Holly Stachler (formerly of Yorktown Community Schools, now with the Indiana Department of Education).

Ball Brothers Foundation is one of the state’s oldest and largest family foundations. Annually, the foundation awards approximately $7 million in grants supporting 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 BBF’s home city, county and state.