Ball Brothers Foundation Awards Grants to Local “Makerspaces”

Graphical representation of facility named, GearBox: Muncie—A Maker HubGraphical representation of facility named GearBox: Muncie—A Makers Hub

By: Jud Fisher—

MUNCIE—Ball Brothers Foundation, one of the state of Indiana’s oldest and largest family foundations, awarded a total of $3,620,000 in grants earlier this month. Grants were awarded to 18 organizations that share the Ball Brothers Foundation’s commitment to improving the quality of life in Muncie, East Central Indiana, and Indiana.

Building on the momentum of downtown Muncie’s revitalization and growing attention toward “makerspaces” as centers of innovation and entrepreneurship, Ball Brothers Foundation awarded two grants that will support efforts at GearBox: Muncie—A Maker’s Hub.

Graphic rendering of GearBox: Muncie—A Maker’s Hub.

Graphic rendering of GearBox: Muncie—A Maker’s Hub.


A $75,000 grant to Ball State University will support costs related to locating several BSU faculty research and student programs inside the downtown industrial space. Ball Brothers Foundation funding will support the construction expenses, the purchase of equipment, and leasing costs. It will also help to support facility coordination and oversight. This will strengthen the university’s connection to downtown Muncie and is envisioned to help drive further revitalization as students and faculty engage in entrepreneurial learning in the heart of the city.

Sustainable Muncie Corporation, the non-profit organization that owns and operates GearBox, was also awarded a grant, this one totaling $90,000. Sustainable Muncie Corporation will use the grant to create a robotics co-op and educational corridor in the facility. The vision for the co-op is a space where K-12 students can work alongside adult mentors, college students, and other “makers” to gain hands-on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) experience. Grant funding will specifically cover costs related to facility design/build-out, equipment, safety components, coordination, and supplies.

In the neighboring city of Anderson, Ball Brothers Foundation funding totaling $50,000 will purchase equipment for a “beginning makers lab” in the new Purdue Polytechnic “Plant 3” facility. Students and community members will use a 3D printer, CNC mill, saws, and other tools to learn fabrication techniques and bring designs to life by creating prototypes.
“The Foundation’s support of maker spaces in downtown Muncie and in Anderson builds on our industrial heritage,” commented Jud Fisher, president and chief operating officer of Ball Brothers Foundation. “It also builds on our belief in the power of a new generation of entrepreneurs, artisans, and industrialists who can move our region forward. We are excited to play a role in helping young people and community members access the practical tools and collaborative workspaces that will drive innovation. Ventures like this are always risky, but we believe this has powerful potential to be a game-changer for our region.”

Other organizations approved for funding include: Crossroads of America Council—Boy Scouts of America, Camp RedWing and ScoutReach ($25,000); Delaware County Emergency Management, Emergency Services Training Center Project in Henry County ($100,000); East Central Indiana Regional Partnership, Inc., Regional Development Marketing ($100,000); Independent Colleges of Indiana, Ball Venture Fund 2015-2016 ($75,000); Indiana Wesleyan University, GROW Nurses Success Cohort Initiative ($15,000); Ivy Tech Community College, Step Up Early Intervention and Dual Credit ($40,000); Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library, Slaughterhouse Five Exhibit and Education Program ($20,000); Minnetrista Cultural Foundation, 2016 Operating and Capital Support ($2,620,000); Muncie Arts and Culture Council, Operating Support ($15,000); Red-tail Land Conservancy, Capacity Expansion Initiative ($50,000); Ross Community Center, Operating Support ($145,000); Second Harvest Food Bank, Forklift and Building Repairs ($40,000); Shafer Leadership Academy, Capacity Building Support ($40,000); The Nature Conservancy, Bison Reintroduction at Kankakee Sands ($50,000); TeenWorks, Summer Employment and College Readiness Program ($70,000).

With assets of nearly $160 million, Ball Brothers Foundation annually makes grants in support of arts and culture, education, the environment, health, human services and public affairs. The Muncie-based family foundation gives priority to projects and programs that improve the quality of life in BBF’s home city, county and state.

Ball Brothers Foundation

Ball Brothers Foundation