MUNCIE, Ind. -- The Muncie-based Ball Brothers Foundation has approved grants for two endowments related to Muncie Community Schools. The funding will support the Director of Public Education/Chief Executive Officer position with the school district, which the foundation says will set Muncie apart from other communities.

The first grant totals $100,000 for the newly-created endowment for the position. The funding will be administered by The Community Foundation of Muncie & Delaware County. The second is a $50,000 award, to be administered by the Ball State University Foundation, which will support the Director of Public Education/CEO to jointly serve as a clinical professor of educational leadership and innovation at Ball State University's Teachers College.

In July, Muncie Community Schools announced Lee Ann Kwiatkowski had been selected to serve as director of public education and CEO. The foundation says the endowment will provide MCS with leverage for leadership recruitment and retention.

"This is a unique recognition of the importance of this high-level position at a critical turning point in the district," said Jud Fisher, president and chief operating officer of the Ball Brothers Foundation. "As a foundation, we believe this is an exciting, unprecedented move for our community. We are happy to support the endeavor and to also see where these grants take Muncie Community Schools in the future."

The Ball State University Board of Trustees approved the takeover of MCS by the university in May 2018. A new seven-member board for MCS was approved a month later.

In a September 2019 interview with Inside INdiana Business, Ball State President Geoffrey Mearns said the partnership between the university and MCS is off to a good start, saying the board ran an operating budget surplus for "for the first time in a generation," which allowed teachers to receive their first raise in 10 years. 

"The Muncie school district is currently rebuilding to become sustainable and viable for many generations to come. As a private foundation, we are especially positioned to support innovative solutions," Fisher added. "Community leaders and educational leaders across the nation are watching to see how Ball State University and MCS will work together to develop innovative ideas to change the trajectory of the Muncie schools and the entire Muncie community."

The Ball Brothers Foundation says because endowments provide perpetual funding, MCS will also have a stable fund from which it can enhance the director/CEO's salary. The foundation adds it hopes to see additional contributions to the endowment from private foundations, individuals and other organizations.

The endowment funds are part of the foundation's final round of grants for 2019, which total more than $5.2 million. The foundation has also awarded MCS a $350,000 grant to support a variety of initiatives, including creating a K-12 Career Exploration Curriculum, developing and Pre-Engineering and Industrial Automation Program with Purdue Polytechnic Institute, Ivy Tech Community College and local manufacturers, and hiring a work-based learning coordinator to help with job placement for seniors in the Graduation Academy and Muncie Central Online programs.

The remaining grant awards include:

Arts and Culture

  • Cornerstone Center for the Arts: $250,000 for 2020 operating support and auditorium renovations
  • Minnetrista: $2,700,000 for 2020 operating and capital support

Education

  • Huffer Memorial Children’s Center: $50,000 for roof repairs, kitchen equipment and other capital projects
  • Ball State University Foundation: $50,000 for support of special projects of the university
  • Independent Colleges of Indiana: $80,000 for the Ball Venture Fund, a competitive funding program among Indiana’s 30 private colleges
  • Muncie & Delaware County BY5 Early Childhood Development, Inc: $40,000 for operating support
  • Burris Laboratory School: $200,000 for further development and expansion of Project Lead The Way, research and pilot implementation of individualized learning plans, enhancement of school climate through social-emotional learning curriculum, and technology support
  • Ivy Tech Community College: $50,000 for expansion of the Certified Nursing Assistant to Licensed Practical Nurse program

Health

  • Luke Bracken Wiese Fund for Juvenile Diabetes at Riley Hospital for Children:$100,000 for Pediatric Diabetes Research Group research funding
  • Ball State University: $50,000 for expansion of services and locations of the Healthy Lifestyle Center
  • IU School of Medicine–Muncie: $50,000 for hiring of a Healthy Promotion and Disease Prevention Director, who will recruit medical students interested in promoting community health and who will investigate the impacts of its scholarly concentration program and partnership with Ball State University’s Healthy Lifestyle Center

Human Services

  • Second Harvest Food Bank: $25,000 for upgrades to LED lighting in the warehouse and supply room
  • Greater Muncie, IN Habitat for Humanity: $50,000 for 8twelve Coalition projects
  • Inside Out CDC: $32,000 for community room buildout and facility energy retrofit

Public Society Benefit

  • East Central Indiana Regional Partnership: $90,000 for regional marketing efforts to advance new investment and talent attraction/retention
  • Innovation Connector: $50,000 for 2020 operating support
  • Muncie Land Bank: $100,000 for two years of operating support
  • ecoREHAB of Muncie: $25,000 for operating support during transition to new executive director
  • Cardinal Greenway: $600,000 for pedestrian bridge and support of next phase of Kitselman Trailhead project
  • Delaware Advancement Corporation: $120,000 for Vision 2021 implementation and Next Muncie support