Ball State University’s School of Journalism and Strategic Communication (SJSC) and the George and Frances Ball Foundation have announced a community partnership, through the Cradle to Career Muncie initiative, which aims at building equitable education pathways and fulfilling careers for all children in Muncie, Ind.

The collaboration will result in Ball State students developing a strategic communication campaign for Cradle to Career Muncie focused on effectively reaching individuals and families within Muncie. This community-wide collective impact initiative brings together more than 70 organizations that provide valuable resources that contribute to the overall goal of increasing educational attainment and connection to careers that result in a good, living-wage income.

“Our work is defined by collective impact and results-based accountability,” said Thomas Kinghorn, president and CEO of the George and Frances Ball Foundation. “The resources available in our community for children and their families often exist, but the impact of these programs and organizations is only as strong as their connectivity to others with common goals. Sharing these resources and building awareness with families, then, is critical to building partnerships between families, schools, and communities that truly make a difference in turning the tide of generational poverty.”

The Cradle to Career Muncie communications campaign will be completed by students in SJSC classes and at The McKinley Avenue Agency, a student-run media sales and strategic communications agency. Dr. Jim Parham, a distinguished Ball State alumnus and former CEO of Hirons, a leading Indianapolis-based agency, is serving as the director of strategic partnerships for the project.

“Through this partnership, the SJSC is affirming its commitment to making its ‘exceptional’ signature immersive opportunities the ‘rule,’” said Dr. Johnny Sparks, director of Ball State’s School of Journalism and Strategic Communication. “Through ongoing mutually beneficial relationships with community partners, such as the George and Frances Ball Foundation, the SJSC is hardwiring project-based courses into the required curricula and serving as a model of innovation in journalism education.”

Phase 1 of the partnership with SJSC, which began in the Spring 2024 semester, will result in updated branding, a refreshed website, and a new social media plan for the Cradle to Career Muncie initiative. Phase 2, which will begin in the Summer 2024 semester, will result in the planning and management of a strategic communication campaign to support Cradle to Career Muncie and the community’s goals to increase educational attainment and, subsequently, careers that provide family-sustaining wages.

“I’m very excited to join this ongoing effort to further enhance Cradle to Career Muncie through a cooperative and collaborative initiative among Ball State, the George and Frances Ball Foundation, and our school’s Strategic Communication program,” said Dr. Parham, a 1979 Ball State graduate. “We are well prepared for this undertaking by utilizing the deep talent of our faculty, staff, and, most importantly, our student population.

“This ongoing effort will culminate in a workable and realistic outreach and education plan that will be focused on families within the promise neighborhoods in Muncie,” Dr. Parham continued. “Students will use existing research and a wealth of information to reach effective solutions for raising awareness among the Cradle to Career Muncie community with the expectation we can make effective gains in this critical educational endeavor.”

Housed within Ball State’s College of Communication, Information, and Media, the School of Journalism and Strategic Communication seeks to empower future journalism and strategic communications professionals with communication processes in projects that integrate ideas and action to advance prosocial change. For more information, call 765-285-8200 or email