By Kelsey Harrington, Program and Analytics Officer, GFBF—
George and Frances Ball Foundation Convenes 50+ Community Organizations Through Collective Impact Initiative: Cradle to Career Muncie, Awards a Record $5.4 Million in Grants
MUNCIE, IN—In 2022, The George and Frances Ball Foundation (GFBF) continued its commitment to extending equitable educational assistance and support to families and youth in the historically underserved neighborhoods of Muncie (Promise Neighborhoods), starting at birth and extending through to successful employment that provides a greater opportunity to thrive for current and future generations. This is accomplished through the collective impact initiative, Cradle to Career Muncie.
Implementing this strategy goes beyond the function of grantmaking. As the backbone convener for Cradle to Career Muncie, the Foundation and tens of community partners utilize both collective impact and results-based accountability frameworks to ensure effective, targeted, and collaborative efforts. No single entity, no matter how effective, can do this work alone. This effort has brought together more than 50 community organizations working together toward common educational goals. As one strategy, in an attempt at securing $30 million in support from the U.S. Department of Education, GFBF collaborated with Muncie Community Schools and Ball State University to prepare a request to the Promise Neighborhood program. As part of the grant preparation process, community data revealed an urgency to address the inequities faced by and increase the opportunities available to families living in the Promise Neighborhoods.
The Promise Neighborhood approach was modeled after Geoffrey Canada’s nationally recognized cradle to career efforts. In September, the national cradle to career thought leader traveled to Muncie to uplift and inspire Muncie Community Schools’ teachers and staff as the keynote speaker for this year’s Education Summit. This visit was made possible by support from GFBF.
Based on the research, educational attainment and family engagement play a major role in unlocking economic prosperity for young people. It is estimated that youth today have 6,000 waking hours each year with only 1,000 hours involved in time at school. Therefore, improving educational outcomes for students not only requires support for schools, but also for families and a wide range of community organizations. Through collaboration, Cradle to Career Muncie’s Collaborative Action Networks work to align existing community resources toward common goals, thereby strengthening and expanding opportunities to ensure that all children and families have equitable access to a pipeline of solutions from cradle to career.
To date, more than 50 community organizations are involved in the Cradle to Career Muncie Collaborative Action Networks. These networks are led by Muncie BY5, Heart of Indiana United Way, Innovation Connector, Muncie Community Schools, Ivy Tech Community College, Muncie Delaware County Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development Alliance, YMCA of Muncie, and Open Door Health Services. As cradle to career strategies are designed and implemented in 2023, additional community stakeholders are needed. To learn how to get involved in Cradle to Career Muncie, please visit https://www.gfballfdn.org/general-inquiries.html.
As indicated by the Foundation’s commitment to Cradle to Career Muncie, GFBF’s single greatest focus is educational attainment and youth development. In 2022, more than $2.5 million in grants were awarded to local afterschool programs, innovative approaches at Muncie Community Schools including attendance support and a data system build-out, scholarships for in-state students at Ball State University, and more.
While much of the effort involved in equipping students from cradle to career is academic in nature, comprehensive community and family supports are critical to students’ overall success. Research shows that the neighborhood in which young people grow up has an incredible impact on their adult life outcomes. This year, with this reality in mind, GFBF supported a number of neighborhood associations and initiatives. From improving playgrounds, to ensuring that neighbors have access to food and other basic needs, to transformational approaches and expanding access to early childhood education, GFBF partnered with neighborhood associations to help them grow capacity and make positive impact. Looking ahead to 2023, the Foundation is eager to cultivate and strengthen relationships with neighborhoods across Muncie to collaboratively improve outcomes from cradle to career.
Including the $2.5 million invested in Cradle to Career Muncie, GFBF awarded a total of more than $5.4 million in grants to 47 different organizations across the Foundation’s various focus areas. Highlights of additional grantmaking efforts in 2022 include the following.
Additional Foundation Focus Areas
The G.A. Ball family has long been known for their beautifully nature-centric home, Oakhurst, which is located on the property of Minnetrista. The family was committed to exploring, understanding, and preserving the natural world. In addition to their love of nature, the family also bonded on their interest in history. One way the legacy of George, Frances, and Elisabeth Ball is honored today is through investment in nature and historic preservation. Red-tail Land Conservancy and The Nature Conservancy in Indiana are two partners making important contributions in their efforts to provide resident-level nature education and Upper White River Watershed research in Delaware County and East Central Indiana.
This year, GFBF made nearly $1 million in investments in arts and cultural activities and resources in Muncie and Delaware County. A commitment to improving quality of place is a decades-long focus for the Foundation. From arts education to local theatre to musical performance, investments in arts and cultural amenities both make the community a better place for residents and create an attraction for visitors. One organization making a big splash in improving quality of life in Muncie is Muncie Civic Theatre. In 2022, Muncie Civic Theatre continued to sell-out hit productions of household favorites including Beauty and The Beast and A Christmas Story, all while growing the skills and confidence of hundreds of young people through their youth theatre program.
Philanthropy can be the nimblest sector when it comes to responding to community challenges and opportunities through financial support or otherwise. This is especially important for human services or wrap around supports. Over the past few years, GFBF has responded to community challenges that have been inflated from the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2022, the Foundation was excited to support its long-time partner, Heart of Indiana United Way, as they brought a comprehensive, more proactive case management model to Muncie and Delaware County. The THRIVE Network, modeled after Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Center for Working Families, is a collaborative approach to ensuring families increase income, build savings, and acquire assets.
G.A. Ball Family Legacy Gifts
While the five primary focus areas of the Foundation all represent an extension of the legacy of the G.A. Ball family, additional grants are made each year to organizations or efforts that more specifically honor the family. In 2022, The George and Frances Ball Foundation awarded nearly $1.2 million to Minnetrista, the former residential property of the Ball Family, and Riley Children’s Foundation for the Luke Bracken Wiese Fund for Juvenile Diabetes Research.
The Foundation, founded in 1937 by George and Frances Ball, was organized exclusively to promote charitable, scientific and educational purposes, with a strong commitment to the needs of East Central Indiana. The family is well known for their philanthropy and for numerous other accomplishments including championing education, collecting items such as rare children’s literature, and creating the Ball Jar Blue Book. Over the past 85 years, the Foundation has invested more than $150 million in local and family-driven causes.
Honoring the family’s interests and legacy, the Foundation reviews and funds grants across 5 different focus areas including education and youth, civic enhancement, arts and culture, wrap-around services, and nature and historic preservation. The Foundation adopted a new proactive grantmaking strategy in 2018, which carries forward the education-focused legacy of George and Frances Ball with efforts to increase educational attainment through a community Cradle to Career Initiative.
To learn more about the Foundation or to find information about 2023 grant opportunities, please visit www.gfballfdn.org or find the George and Frances Ball Foundation page on Facebook.