The Building Better Neighborhoods (BBN) initiative connects Ball State’s resources with neighborhood development efforts across Muncie and Delaware County, and is a collaboration between the Office of Immersive Learning, the Office of Community Engagement, the Muncie Action Plan and other local agencies working to improve our community’s neighborhoods. The Office of Immersive Learning is pleased to offer funding for faculty and undergraduate students wishing to collaborate with local organizations focused on neighborhood projects.

BBN immersive learning projects pull together student teams guided by faculty mentors to create unique, high-impact learning experiences that result in real-world solutions to Muncie’s challenges. These grants can cover supplies, minor equipment, printing, surveys, neighborhood planning sessions, and other project-related expenses 


The grant application will require: 

  • Project Title
  • Project Semester(s)
  • Course Numbers
  • Project Director
  • Project Director's Department
  • Project Abstract
  • Neighborhood Associations or Community Partners Involved
  • Problem or Purpose Statement
  • Major Goals, Objectives, and Desired Outcomes
  • Responsibilities of Community Partner
  • Course Numbers
  • Student Information: SLOs, Credit Options
  • Project Timeline
  • Grading Plan
  • Partner Letters of Support
  • A Budget using this Template

To get feedback on proposal ideas, potential funding amounts, or if you have general questions about your application, please contact Heather Williams, Associate Director for Community Engagement and Program Manager for Building Better Neighborhoods, or Suzanne Plesha, Director of Immersive Learning. Eligibility is contingent on approval from the applicant’s chair’s and College dean’s approval.

Here are some examples of past BBN projects: 



Professor and a student use a thermal camera. Social well-being and quality of life can be measured using indicators like income, housing, education, health, and the physical environment of an area. In this immersive learning Building Better Neighborhoods project, students evaluated the quality-of-life for residents in the Riverside-Normal City Neighborhood in Muncie. They assessed the living quality for each housing unit in the neighborhood, including the building’s health, physical environment, and its adjacency to community amenities and hazards. Features, such as driving and walking distance to nearest grocery stores, parks, and other amenities, were derived from existing GIS layers or extracted from high-resolution aerial photos in the GIS lab at Ball State University. Additionally, the students used smartphones equipped with thermal infrared cameras to collect information on structure heat loss, road conditions, and lawn health. The students integrated the collected data into a living quality geodatabase of Muncie neighborhoods for further analysis. Explore some of the story maps created using the collected data.
Faculty Mentor: Jason Yang, Department of Geography
Community Partner: Muncie Action Plan




Student drilling siding on houseecoREHAB is a Muncie nonprofit organization that emerged from an immersive experience within Ball State’s Department of Architecture. It supports real-world learning opportunities for students through projects that transform abandoned properties into inviting and affordable homes. The nonprofit sought to expand its reach and reputation. Students developed an integrated and measurable marketing and communications strategy. They gathered and shared compelling stories about the organization’s impact through various platforms and methods. They created a logo and additional marketing pieces and improved ecoREHAB’s web and social media presence.

Faculty Mentor:
Kate Elliott, Department of Journalism
Community Partner: ecoREHAB



Hands write on note cardIn the summer of 2019, the City of Muncie made the bold decision to reclaim the former Halteman Swim Club property and designate it as a new city park. The public space, called Halteman Park, represents the extensive efforts of the Halteman Village Neighborhood Association (HVNA), a Ball State class taught by Professors Chris Baas and Steve Burrows, and the Muncie Parks Department to turn this abandoned pool area into a green space for residents to enjoy. In this immersive Building Better Neighborhoods project, Landscape Architecture students built on the work of previous studios to develop plans for the site. Early this spring, students conducted a public work session with members of the HVNA, the City of Muncie, and the community at large to strategize, vision, and create actionable steps for future improvements for the property.

Faculty Mentors:
Chris Baas, Jeremy Merrill; Department of Landscape Architecture; J.P. Hall, Department of Architecture
Community Partners: Halteman Village Neighborhood Association, City of Muncie, Muncie Parks Department




Logo designs for Southside NeighborhoodThe City of Muncie has diverse communities with friendly people, exciting pasts, and outstanding cultural amenities that make it a desired place to live, do business, and visit. Starting in Spring 2019, Studio 165+, an immersive design studio in the School of Art, began working with neighborhood committees to develop their visual identity, elevate their image and evoke a sense of pride in residents. After developing a neighborhood identity, they created designs to captured those characteristics and established style guides to help the neighborhoods illustrate graphic standards and rules to ensure consistency and continuity across applications and platforms. The neighborhoods done so far include Halteman Village, Robinwood Estates, Westbrier, Whitely, Old West End, Forest Park, Southside, and Riverside Normal City. Designs for Old West End and Whitey have won multiple ADDY awards from the American Advertising Federation - East Central Indiana chapter and an American Graphic Design Award. Visit the Studio 165+ website to learn more about the project and see more designs.

Faculty Mentor: Shantanu Suman, School of Art
Community Partners: Building Better Neighborhoods, Muncie Action Plan