Saint Joseph's College is among three Indiana independent colleges that have been selected as the 2012 winners of the Ball Brothers Foundation Venture Fund competitive grant program. SJC, Franklin College, and Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College will share $75,000 in seed funding for start-up initiatives to stimulate creativity and innovation and to foster competition and collaboration among the state's 31 independent campuses.
SJC is directing its $25,000 award to develop a "Hoophouse Farming Eduventure," an innovative start-up business and educational collaboration in organic hoophouse farming that uses hoophouse technologies for four-season vegetable production. Also known as a high tunnel, a hoophouse is a passive solar greenhouse that extends the growing season for warm and cool-season crops in both rural and urban settings.
SJC students will participate in work, study, and hands-on activities to learn the economics and management of crop production. The objectives of the project include: providing healthy organic vegetables to the Rensselaer community through local markets at very affordable prices; generating sufficient revenue to incorporate the project into the curriculum and culture of the College beginning in year two; and donating 20% of vegetable production to the Good Samaritan Food Pantry in Rensselaer for consumption by needy families.
The Ball Venture Fund was created in 1999 to enable the Ball Brothers Foundation to take an active role in encouraging and supporting creative efforts at Indiana's independent colleges and universities. The program, administered by the Independent Colleges of Indiana (ICI), provides seed money for innovative start-up programs at ICI member institutions.
ICI is a nonprofit association that represents the state's 31 private nonprofit colleges and universities. ICI member institutions enroll more than 87,000 students (approximately 20 percent of all students statewide) and annually produce 35 percent of all bachelor's degrees in Indiana.
Saint Joseph's College, named a "character-building college" by the Templeton Foundation and a "best Midwestern college" by the Princeton Review, is a four-year, Catholic college offering 27 majors, 4 group majors, 34 minors, and 9 pre-professional programs, complemented by the nationally acclaimed Core Program. Founded and sponsored by the Missionaries of the Precious Blood, SJC is located in Rensselaer, Indiana, approximately 90 minutes from both Chicago and Indianapolis, on a park-like campus of 180 acres and has an enrollment of 1,100 students.
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