BCEF Receives Grant for Outdoor Learning Complex at Batesville Primary School

Thursday, December 7, 2023 at 1:16 PM

By Batesville Community Education Foundation, news release

BCEF plans to announce more details about the construction of the BPS complex in early 2024.

The location where the outdoor learning complex will be built. Photo provided.

(Batesville, Ind.) - The Batesville Community Education Foundation (BCEF) has recently received grants totaling $130,000 from two Hillenbrand foundations toward the construction of an outdoor learning complex at Batesville Primary School (BPS). The additional funding provides BCEF with a greater capacity to complete more sections of the complex in 2024 than initially planned.

The William A. and Martha H. Hillenbrand Foundation awarded BCEF $50,000 and the John A. Hillenbrand (JAH) Foundation contributed $80,000 toward the BCEF project. The outdoor learning complex is BCEF’s largest initiative to date. The concept plan for the complex would allow for three to four classrooms of elementary-aged students to learn outside at any given time.

“Because BCEF is so closely aligned with the Batesville Community School Corporation (BCSC) as its nonprofit partner, our foundation doesn’t qualify for most public grant funding, which we knew might limit our capacity to tackle a project of this magnitude all at one time,” explained Anne Wilson, BCEF executive director. “We had a successful annual campaign this fall, with gifts from individual donors, and received several other noteworthy grants that netted us enough to move forward with the first phase. However, these grants from the two Hillenbrand foundations are game-changers. The BCEF board of directors is so grateful for this support, as now our foundation has the happy task of planning for not just one but multiple sections of our project to become a reality in the coming months.”

The idea of building a space outdoors at BPS for innovative educational purposes was proposed by the BCEF board of directors upon realizing that they could not bring their signature project—flexible learning space furnishings—to the school at this time due to a lack of indoor space. Not easily deterred, the group pivoted, researching the concept of learning outdoors, unplugged from technology. The list of benefits, from improved academic performance and better mental health outcomes to enhanced personal connections among students and teachers, was a deciding factor in moving forward. The new complex will impact all of the school’s approximately 550 preschool to grade two students and most of the 70+ staff members each year.

“I am so grateful that the Hillenbrand Foundations have chosen to support the BPS outdoor learning complex, an innovative educational space that will provide students with opportunities for hands-on environmental learning,” stated Lisa Tuveson, board member of the William A. and Martha H. Hillenbrand and JAH Foundations. “In the present climate, the importance of alternative learning spaces cannot be overstated, as they allow students to explore and expand their knowledge beyond the traditional classroom. My grandparents and great-grandparents would have been so excited about this initiative, for they believed that the future of Batesville depended on the growth and development of our students.”

BCEF plans to announce more details about the construction of the BPS complex in early 2024. Since 2017, BCEF has donated more than $140,000 toward flexible spaces at BCSC, with the overall historical benefit of all of its programs to the school corporation and its students, including scholarships, totaling nearly $500,000.

The Batesville Community Education Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, was established to provide additional funding for innovative learning opportunities that go beyond the basics in academics, athletics, and the arts at the Batesville Community School Corporation, enhancing the educational environment for all of its students. More information about BCEF’s planned outdoor learning complex at BPS and its other programs may be found online at BatesvilleEducationFoundation.org or by emailing Wilson at awilson@batesville.k12.in.us.

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