Overall Rating Silver
Overall Score 58.68
Liaison Jennifer Palilonis
Submission Date July 21, 2021

STARS v2.2

Ball State University
EN-10: Community Partnerships

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 3.00 / 3.00 Delaina Boyd
Associate Vice President for Community Engagement
Office of Community Engagement
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Name of the institution’s formal community partnership to advance sustainability :
Muncie Food Hub Partnership

Does the institution provide financial or material support for the partnership? :
Yes

Which of the following best describes the partnership timeframe?:
Multi-year or ongoing

Which of the following best describes the partnership?:
Sustainability-focused

Are underrepresented groups and/or vulnerable populations engaged as equal partners? :
Yes

A brief description of the institution’s formal community partnership to advance sustainability:

Muncie and the surrounding region of Delaware County – known applicably as “Middletown America” – was once considered the quintessential American small city. But decades of economic decline have left the region in crisis: widespread poverty affects 23% of adults and 32% of child residents. Likewise, food insecurity – defined by the USDA as not having access to enough food for an active, healthy life – affects 17% of adults and 25% of children. This is especially troubling for youth in the community, who require adequate nutrition to grow, learn and develop into successful citizens.

The Muncie Food Hub Partnership (MFHP) seeks to nourish and strengthen the Muncie community through the robust exchange of fresh, affordable local food. MFHP manifests that investment in East Central Indiana food production through business development, education, and civic engagement.

The food hub specific objectives are to expand markets for local growers, increase community-wide availability of fresh, affordable, local foods, provide the next generation of students with critical training in food systems skills, and boost economic development and prosperity through job creation and exchange of goods in the East Central Indiana (ECI) region.

The Muncie Food Hub partnership promotes sustainable agriculture, sustainable food systems, rethinking the way we grow, aggregate, and distribute food to 1) support growers who are farming sustainably, 2) support a food resilient community, 3) connect growers to communities/residents in need, and 4) develop a regional food policy that will synchronize complimentary food and health related strategies for Muncie and East Central Indiana.

Given current social, environmental, and economic constraints in ECI, rebuilding our local food system is a challenging and multifaceted process and initially requires deliberate partnership building and persistent engagement with the greater Muncie community. Toward this, the Muncie Food Hub Partnership spent the first and second project years doing just that: conducting community listening sessions, attending community and organizational meetings, conducting interviews and focus groups with Muncie citizens (including food insecure individuals) and food related organizations. This initial work has resulted in strong and long-lasting partnerships based on the consistent message of supporting our local farms through the development of new markets for selling their goods and providing locally grown food to food deserts and the food insecure. Our organization has become deeply embedded in the community particularly with regards to the food system and efforts to make it better for everyone. The focus on a mobile farmers market – bringing healthy and fresh food to food insecure residents – was a community driven solution – coming directly out of our community meetings and listening sessions.

Ball State has contributed more than $275,000 to this effort by way of an Academic Excellence Grant and an additional Building Better Neighborhoods grant in 2020. Also in 2020, the MFHP helped distribute over 9,000 gallons of milk across East Central Indiana. This was a partnership formed with Purdue Extension - Delaware County and Prairie Farms dairy in Anderson, IN. Using momentum from the milk distribution project, the MFHP was awarded a $28,000 grant by IU Health and the IU Health Foundation’s Community Impact Investment (CII) funds to develop and implement a produce distribution program in Delaware, Blackford, and Jay counties. The overarching goal of this project was to utilize existing MFHP food purchasing, storage, and distribution capabilities to provide free, fresh produce to people struggling to meet emergency food needs, particularly in low food access areas. Related project goals were to: (1) engage with several, smaller food pantries and daycares in the region to provide healthy food relief; (2) bring fruits and vegetables to new audiences; and (3) widen distribution channels for local farmers unable to find markets during the Covid-19 pandemic.

MFHP utilized CII funds to purchase produce from local farmers, aggregate, store, transport, and drop off allotments to each identified distribution site once per week. This unique produce distribution system project took place in Delaware, Blackford, and Jay counties at 10 locations. These locations were identified by IU Health and MFHP. Produce distribution sites included: Ross Community Center, Whitely Food Pantry, Salvation Army Food Pantry, Huffer Memorial Childcare, Mitchell Early Childhood and Family Center, Motivate Our Minds, Community and Family Services Food Pantries in Hartford City, Montpellier and Portland, IU Health Jay Hospital employee food bank, IU Health Blackford Hospital employee food bank, Jay Community Center Summer Camp.

In total, approximately 16,000 lbs. of produce were distributed across 10 sites over the course of 3.5 months (15 weeks). Distributions began on July 20, 2020 and ended on October 30, 2020. Each site received a distribution once per week on an agreed upon day/time. MFHP engaged with 8 farmers to supply produce over the course of the project. Altogether, farmers received nearly $18,000 over the course of the project. Based on host-site feedback, 7,500 people benefitted directly from our program over the course of the project.

In addition, the following entities have also committed significant resources to this project including consultation, outreach support, event planning, research participation, and publicity platforms - Edible Muncie, Purdue Extension, City of Muncie, Over 50 regional farmers and producers of local food, Open Door Health Services, Muncie Delaware Clean and Beautiful, Minnetrista, The Farmer’s Truck Mobile Market, Treehill Farms Mobile Market, Yorktown Farmer’s Market, Muncie Maker’s Market, The Fair Food Network, Urban Garden Coalition, Indy Hunger Network, Youth Opportunity Center, Soup Kitchen of Muncie, Delaware County Food Council. Muncie Public Library.

Additional information can be found at the MFHP Website: https://munciefoodhub.org/


Name of the institution’s formal community partnership to advance sustainability (2nd partnership):
ecoRehab

Does the institution provide financial or material support for the partnership? (2nd partnership):
Yes

Which of the following best describes the partnership timeframe? (2nd partnership):
Multi-year or ongoing

Which of the following best describes the partnership’s sustainability focus? (2nd partnership):
Sustainability-focused

Are underrepresented groups and/or vulnerable populations engaged as equal partners? (2nd partnership):
Yes

A brief description of the institution’s formal community partnership to advance sustainability (2nd partnership):

ecoREHAB, having emerged from a 2009 immersive learning studio within Ball State’s architecture program, has long supported the university’s efforts to provide students with real-world, hands-on educational experiences. The Muncie nonprofit has outfitted dozens of architecture students with sustainable design and building expertise through projects to transform abandoned properties into inviting, affordable homes.

ecoREHAB is an active partner in the 8Twelve Coalition, which was formed in 2015 to address the disinvestment experienced by residents in two of Muncie, Indiana's neighborhoods hardest hit by blight, abandonment, and drug addiction. Through the 8Twelve Coalition's work, residents engage in several community meetings each year to discuss their vision for their neighborhood and celebrate neighborhood-wide improvements. Goals established during planning meetings have included housing rehabilitation and the addition of safe, clean, affordable home-ownership opportunities within the community.

ecoREHAB also partners with other nonprofits to uplift neighbors and improve neighborhoods. Each year the organization helps dozens of elderly residents age-in-place through home improvement projects in collaboration with PathStone Housing Corporation of Indiana and Greater Muncie Habitat for Humanity. The organization has also engaged in improvement projects throughout the city, including overseeing a boarding program that helped secure vacant and abandoned properties throughout Muncie’s inner-city neighborhoods.

Ball State has funded various projects through Building Better Neighborhood grants. Curriculum has also been imbedded in the College of Architecture and Planning working with ecoREHAB each year to develop building plans for homes that are ready to rehab. The organization is currently working with construction management undergraduate students to develop plans for their Jefferson Street rehabilitation project funded by federal HOME dollars and in partnership with the 8twelve Coalition’s housing committee. ecoREHAB will also be partnering in 2021 with an immersive learning class led by faculty in CCIM and Geography to provide energy auditing for homes throughout the city of Muncie.
With its focus on partnership, education, and sustainability, ecoREHAB continues to play a vital role in Muncie—building community, one house at a time.

Additional information on ecoRehab can be found at https://ecorehab.org.


Name of the institution’s formal community partnership to advance sustainability (3rd partnership):
Brightfields for a Brighter Future: Solar Potential Analysis and Design (previously Brownfields to Brightfields)

Does the institution provide financial or material support for the partnership? (3rd partnership):
Yes

Which of the following best describes the partnership timeframe? (3rd partnership):
Multi-year or ongoing

Which of the following best describes the partnership? (3rd partnership):
Sustainability-focused

Are underrepresented groups and/or vulnerable populations engaged as equal partners? (3rd partnership):
No

A brief description of the institution’s formal community partnership to advance sustainability (3rd partnership):

Delaware County and adjacent East Central Indiana counties have established its manufacturing and industrial reputation since the Indiana Gas Boom of 1880s. However, after decades of industrial decline starting around 1980s, many of its flagship industries moved out of the region resulting in many underutilized former industrial sites, often called brownfields. US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) defines a brownfield as a real property that is not currently in use due to the actual presence or potential presence of hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminants. Even though there are strong developmental potentials for brownfields, largely due to the presence of potential presence of hazardous substances, reuse and redevelopment of brownfields may be complicated. According to US EPA, there are more than 40 brownfields in Delaware County, Indiana.

Meanwhile, beginning in early 2000s, developers and communities slowly began to view brownfields as an opportunity, and now they are starting to attract significant funding and subsidies from private investors, non-profits, and government agencies. The US EPA identifies the redevelopment of brownfields into solar generators as one of the most adaptive reuses of such sites, providing multiple benefits to developers, communities, and residents of a community. Also, to promote renewable energy production, the State of Indiana provide incentives to utility companies to voluntarily increase the amount of clean energy resources in their electricity portfolios.

Against the above backdrop, the Brownfields to Brightfields Project was implemented to assess the solar potential of brownfields in Delaware County and Grant County. This project was fulfilled in Fall 2017 and Fall 2018 semester as Ball State University’s Regional Planning and Design Studio (PLAN 320). Partnering with Sierra Club Hoosier Chapter, this project tried to find sustainable development potentials from brownfields in East Central Indiana Counties.

Using a full list of brownfield sites identified by the US EPA and the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM), urban planning major students assessed each brownfield site to document its physical characteristics (e.g., acreage, site ownership), proximity to electrical infrastructure, zoning ordinances, and current land uses, then narrowed the list down to 22 sites. Students visited these 22 sites to conduct on-site observations to verify and update the data, then created an interactive GIS map describing each site’s physical characteristics, potential capacity for solar generation, suitability analysis for a large-scale or the utility-scale solar PV installation. They also calculated greenhouse gas equivalency. The students also developed a dissemination strategy which included a publicly available ArcGIS Story Map website describing the project’s cumulative progress, students’ learning outcomes, and an interactive GIS map. Students also produced a detailed replication guideline describing data sources and methodology to assist other Indiana communities in replicating this analytical survey.

Ball State University has contributed more than $35,000 to this effort by way of a Provost Immersive Learning Grant. This grant supported student learning objectives and the dissemination of the project outcome to the wider community. Representatives of the Sierra Club Hoosier Chapter, the project partner, requested students to present the project findings to leaders and stakeholders of Indiana Michigan Power, the local utility provider, at a meeting in February 2018 to demonstrate Delaware County’s potential as a possible future site for anticipated large-scale solar development. Students also participated in the Indianapolis Sustainability and Resilience Conference in Spring 2018 and the American Planning Association National Conference in Spring 2018 and Spring 2019 to disseminate the results of this project.

Faculty Mentor and Associate Professor of Urban Planning, Sanglim Yoo, chose to run this project with a slightly different name moving forward; Brightfield for a Brighter Future: Solar potential analysis and design for Muncie, IN. This project was awarded an additional $6,400 from a Ball State University Provost Immersive Learning Grant. During the Spring 2021 semester this project was embedded in PLAN203 Regional Analysis and Design Studio. Students will analyze rooftop solar potential for city-owned buildings together with an updated brownfields list. Students will also design a solar farm for a couple of selected sites. Sierra Club Hoosier Chapter will meet with students, virtually, to provide similar input as in previous semesters.

This project has received international recognition; see page 14 in the International Sustainable Campus Network, 2018 Sustainable Campus Best Practices Publication available here:
https://www.iau-hesd.net/sites/default/files/documents/iscn-report-2018-web.pdf

Publicly accessible project websites:
Phase 1: http://arcg.is/1ruGry
Phase 2: https://arcg.is/0yn15W


A brief description of the institution’s other community partnerships to advance sustainability:

Sustainable communities empower residents to contribute and work together toward shared priorities. They encourage businesses, city governments, and nonprofits to partner in innovative ways to improve quality of life and invest in the community’s long-term future. Ball State University recognizes that the future of any community lies in the health, well-being, and achievement of its youngest citizens. In 2018, Ball State embarked on a public university-public school partnership to transform Muncie Community Schools into a model for innovative, inclusive, and relevant education.
In May 2018, the Indiana General Assembly adopted legislation to grant Ball State University—Indiana’s fourth-largest public institution—authority to appoint a Muncie Community School (MCS) Board of Trustees, whose members assumed leadership in July 2018. In addition, the state granted administrative and academic flexibility to implement innovative strategies for the benefit of Muncie Community Schools and the children and families it serves.
Since July 2018, enrollment has stabilized; a new director of public education and chief executive officer, Dr. Lee Ann Kwiatkowski, was hired, and stakeholders have contributed nearly $4 million to support the development of a community-based, cradle-to-career school district.
A joint BSU-MCS Academic Innovation Council, under the direction of Ball State Provost Suzanna Rivera-Mills and Dr. Kwiatkowski, was established to develop an Academic Innovation and Financial Viability Plan, which was presented to the Indiana legislature in June 2020. Throughout the development of the Academic Innovation and Financial Viability Plan, community leaders and citizens participated in dozens of listening sessions and more than 500 MCS teachers, nonprofit leaders, Ball State professors, and national experts weighed in during a two-day Academic Innovation Summit in August 2019.
The council also oversees collaborative projects between Ball State faculty and students and Muncie Community Schools, with priority placed on initiatives in the following areas:
• Safe and Healthy Schools
• Curriculum and Instruction
• Cultural Competency and Community / Family Engagement
• Leadership, Finance, and Governance
Additionally, Ball State professors have conducted district-wide trainings in support of the partnership.
The Academic Innovation Council meets weekly to discuss strategic initiatives and assess progress towards achieving the goals of the Academic Innovation and Financial Viability Plan. Most recently, the council implemented a new framework for the integration of Social Emotional Learning Ambassadors and Professional Development Liaisons – Ball State faculty who spend part of their days in Muncie Community Schools to work on district-identified goals; and planning for a two-day Academic Innovation Summit to take place in the fall of 2021.
A Community Engagement Council of community leaders and concerned citizens has been formed to facilitate advocacy, volunteerism and fundraising for the district.


Website URL where information about the institution’s community partnerships to advance sustainability is available:
Additional documentation to support the submission:
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