George and Frances Ball Foundation Announces $3.5 Million in Local Philanthropic Investment

Photo provided by Ball State University

By Kelsey Harrington, Program and Analytics Officer—

MUNCIE, IN—Earlier this month, the George and Frances Ball Foundation’s Board of Directors met to review third quarter competitive grant requests. The Foundation’s proactive grantmaking strategy is focused on educational attainment through the collective impact initiative, Cradle to Career Muncie. In addition to this strong, strategic focus, the Foundation also targets grantmaking to advance quality of place. This quarter, George and Frances Ball Foundation leadership made commitments totaling $3.5 million to promote these core components of the Foundation’s mission and to continue the legacy of the G.A. Ball family.

The largest award, totaling $2.5 million, was committed to Ball State University for the development and construction of the new Performing Arts Center (PAC), a catalytic agent that will drive the multi-phase Village Project. The PAC will be designed as a state-of-the-art venue for students, faculty, and staff, as well as people of all ages who will be drawn to the facility for its top-notch performances. With University events alone, the center will host more than 160 Ball State University performances, attracting an estimated 35,000 people to the Village. Not only will audiences have the opportunity to enjoy nationally recognized theater entertainment, but the very talent students drawn from across the country to the University’s highly competitive program will be able to demonstrate their ability to a local audience. The Village Project will result in a new best-in-class commercial district with new entertainment, dining, lodging, retail, and apartment and owner-occupied residences. The George and Frances Ball Foundation believes in the promotion of civic vitality at the heart of this important project.


The Foundation also made commitments to civic vitality in other corners of the community through a significant $300,000 award to Whitely Community Council (WCC) for capital expenses related to the build-out of their new, multigenerational community space. This nearly $3 million project will further establish pride in place on Muncie’s northeast side, as well as create a hub of community resources brought closer to neighbors to promote greater access to and leverage of health, financial wellness, entrepreneurship development, education, and basic needs resources. In addition to investments to catalyze this collaborative venture spearheaded by WCC, the Foundation also continued its ongoing commitment to supporting the neighborhood association with a $35,000 operating grant, as well as an earlier grant this year to help cover costs associated with taking 17 Muncie middle schoolers on a transformative college tour in Washington D.C. to visit Historically Black Colleges and Universities, a trip organized by WCC’s Education Committee.

Exposure to opportunities and experiences for learners of all ages is at the heart of the Foundation’s Cradle to Career Muncie initiative. The Foundation also awarded more than $235,000 to the initiative’s Social Emotional Learning Collaborative Action Network’s (CAN) 3-phase plan to support pre-k through 12th grade students at Muncie Community Schools in improving attendance and challenging behaviors. The multi-year roadmap includes strategies such as training support staff on avoidance behaviors and restorative practices, bridging community partnerships for daytime intervention provision, and systems change efforts to ensure families feel supported and that there is consistency in practice across the district.

Additional grants awarded to area nonprofits to advance educational attainment and quality of place include:

  • Delaware Advancement Corporation received $170,000 for two years’ support towards their Vision 2027 campaign, as well as catalytic funding for building a structure to connect local employers and educational organizations in a talent development effort.
  • Muncie Area Youth for Christ was awarded $48,750 to support the Juvenile Justice Ministry at the Youth Opportunity Center and CityLife at Southside Middle School.
  • Ross Community Center received $30,000 to support their operations and family and community engagement programming.
  • East Central Indiana Regional Partnership was awarded $65,000 to advance regional strategic marketing activities and READI 1.0 and 2.0 program deployment.

About the George and Frances Ball Foundation

To learn more about the Foundation or to find information about 2023 grant opportunities, please visit or find the George and Frances Ball Foundation page on Facebook. Founded in 1937, George and Frances Ball Foundation 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.

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 place-based 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.