Ball State, YMCA partnership repurposes Muncie school into early childhood education and family center

Muncie, In. — A closed elementary school in the heart of Muncie’s Halteman Village neighborhood will be repurposed into a child care center for infants to age 5, thanks to a new partnership between Ball State University and the YMCA of Muncie.

Ball State will soon begin renovating the former Mitchell Elementary School. When renovations are finished this August, the facility will house programs currently offered by the YMCA’s Apple Tree Child Development Center and Ball State’s Child Study Center.

“The innovative integration of these two programs will benefit the entire community, particularly in preparing children for kindergarten,” said Ball State President Geoffrey S. Mearns. “Reimagined as the Mitchell Early Childhood and Family Center, the facility will be a model for child care centers.”

Expanding early childhood options and actively promoting kindergarten readiness is in the Muncie Action Plan, and the subsequent BY5 Early Childhood Initiative, as one of the most important factors in the health of the local community’s economy.

“The creation of the new child care center is a major step forward for the community, providing a state-of-the-art facility for Muncie’s youngest residents,” said Chad Zaucha, president and chief executive officer of the Muncie YMCA.

“This is a tremendous opportunity to enhance our programming in a modern facility,” he said. “We look forward to partnering with the Ball State Teachers College’s Child Study Center, which will provide our families with additional opportunities to help foster the next generation of local residents.”

The Mitchell Early Childhood and Family Center will capture the essence of the Apple Tree Child Development Center and Ball State’s Child Study Center in a new, innovative approach.

Highlights of the partnership include:

  • Model environment for child care centers.
  • Developmentally appropriate, Reggio-inspired, whole-child focused curriculum.
  • Professional development and practical experience for future educators as student-teachers engage in the classrooms with children.
  • Family engagement support and resources.
  • Opportunities for Ball State faculty and student research.
  • Ball State faculty support from the Department of Early Childhood, Youth, and Family Studies in the Teachers College.
  • Complimentary YMCA family membership for enrolled families to focus on building healthy spirit, mind, and body.

Enrollment in the programs is on a first-come, first-serve basis, with financial assistance available to those families that qualify. For more information about the partnership, visit in the coming weeks.

Mitchell Elementary School was closed in 2017 by Muncie Community Schools (“MCS”) as part of an effort to financially stabilize the district. Ball State acquired the school and other MCS properties in 2018.