Five Indiana independent colleges are the winners of the 2023 Ball Venture Fund competitive grant program: Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College, University of Evansville, Valparaiso University, Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, and University of Notre Dame. They will share $100,000 in seed funding for initiatives to stimulate creativity and innovation and foster competition and collaboration among the state’s 29 private, non-profit campuses. The grant was established by the Ball Brothers Foundation (Muncie) and is administered by Independent Colleges of Indiana (ICI). The 2023 recipients were chosen from a field of 39 proposals: 

Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College (Saint Mary-of-the-Woods) will use its $25,000 to develop a pre-veterinary program for equine studies. The program will focus on hands-on learning for students to learn how to handle horses and other large animals. The overarching goal of the program is to increase the student pipeline for Indiana veterinarians and for the students to complete their undergraduate degrees with excellent training prior to their graduate school experience.  

University of Evansville (Evansville) will apply its $25,000 to the K-12 Portals to Innovation program, which will create innovation spaces in partnering K-12 schools. The program will allow teachers and administrators to design their own spaces in collaboration with the university’s Center for Innovation & Change, and the ultimate goal is to make this process scalable for broader use in southeastern Indiana to create more innovation spaces for Hoosier students.  

Valparaiso University (Valparaiso) will apply its $25,000 to the creation of the Center for Games and Interactive Entertainment. The center will be a central location for faculty, students and the community to share resources and ideas, including how faculty can include a variety of games in their pedagogy. Plans include a virtual reality space, a streaming studio, and open play space for community gatherings, student groups, and classes.  

Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology (Terre Haute) will use its $12,500 on the creation of the Sustainability Teaching Network, which will empower faculty to include different aspects of sustainability like electric vehicles or renewable energy into their pedagogy. The network will be part of a larger, institutional commitment to sustainability principles, and doing so with the faculty will bring a multi-disciplinary approach to the goal.  

University of Notre Dame (Notre Dame) will direct its $12,500 to launch the Indiana Prison Liberal Arts Network in collaboration with Holy Cross College and Marian University. The network will host statewide convenings for 20 institutions that will discuss continued education for the incarcerated, best practices, reentry programming and more.  

The recipients were selected by a panel of judges, including Rich Spisak, Ball Brothers Foundation; Lisa Gomperts, Schmidt Associates; Liz Drury, UnitedHealthcare; Cathy Waggoner, Design Collaborative; and Rick Wittgren, FORVIS.