Transformative Foundation Grants

The Work of The Foundation

The Austin E. Knowlton Foundation has invested in a range of initiatives through direct grants and contributions to colleges and universities.

Transformative Foundation Grants - Active Projects:

Bluffton University Science Center

Undergraduate science studies at Bluffton University will soon be significantly enhanced by the creation of the Knowlton Science Center. With a $4 million gift from the Foundation towards Bluffton’s $14.5 million total project cost, the 32,500 square foot Center will be LEED certified and include technologically savvy learning labs for biology, chemistry, physics and dietetics. Mr. Knowlton was a lifetime proponent of the importance of improving science and math education for American students.

Bluffton Science Center

Transformative Foundation Grants - Completed Projects:

Augustana College Academic Health & Wellness

Announced in early 2019, through a $9 million grant, the Foundation will create the “Peter J. Lindberg, MD, Center for Health, Wellness and Human Performance” which will house new academic programs and facilities for kinesiology, health sciences, physical fitness, mental well-being and nutrition. The Center will feature classrooms, fitness laboratories, a test kitchen, faculty offices, collaboration spaces, a meditation “orb” and an aquatic center. The Center is expected to be completed in early 2021.  Mr. Knowlton had a deep lifetime connection to sports and wellness as well as a long personal relationship with Augustana College, and the Center honors the legacy of Dr. Peter Lindberg, a 1961 graduate of Augustana who dedicated his life to human wellness and healing.

Augustana Health Wellness Center

Aviation Education & Research Facilities at The Ohio State University

As a business pioneer who used aircraft to travel to construction sites, Mr. Knowlton recognized that commercial aviation was an important economic driver for business. His interest in aviation is reflected in the Foundation’s $10 million gift to modernize the aviation education facilities and terminal at The Ohio State University Airport. The new facilities feature state-of-the-art flight simulators, as well as labs and classrooms, benefiting more than 500 students a year who are earning aviation degrees at OSU.

Aviation Education & Research Facilities

Baldwin Wallace University STEM Center

Announced Fall 2019, the Foundation has provided an $8 million lead gift to create a STEM facility (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) on the campus of Baldwin Wallace University in Berea, Ohio. STEM studies embody a core Foundation mission of advancing science in higher education. The Foundation is excited and honored to be a part of elevating Baldwin Wallace’s STEM offerings in building experienced leaders in these vital areas. The total project funding for this initiative is $25 million. The Austin E. Knowlton STEM Center is expected to be completed in early 2021.

Baldwin Wallace University STEM Center

Centre College

In the Spring of 2019, the Foundation provided a $3 million grant to Danville, Kentucky’s Centre College to renovate and expand its facilities focused on science and math studies, which will include a new data science program. The Austin E. Knowlton Center for Science and Mathematics at Centre College will be completed in 2020. The Foundation’s support for this facility expansion is in addition to its long-time scholarship program at Centre College.

Centre College Expansion Rendering

College of Wooster Life Science Building

As America’s premier college for mentored undergraduate research, Wooster students work one on-one with faculty mentors on meaningful research projects that develop their skills in critical analysis, project management, creativity and communication. Mr. Knowlton’s entrepreneurial & collaborative spirit lives on in the Foundation’s $8 million gift to help create the Wooster Life Science Building and Knowlton Commons.

College of Wooster Life Science Building

Denison Career Center

Mr. Knowlton was an advocate for higher education that properly prepares students for successful lives and careers, and the Foundation partnered with Denison University in creating one of the nation’s most innovative college career centers in 2016 through a $9 million grant. Denison’s Austin E. Knowlton Center for Career Exploration engages students from matriculation until years after graduation in planning and developing their professional skills and paths and makes unique use of technology, experiential learning and the school’s alumni network. The support for the Center is in addition to the financial support that the Foundation has provided to Denison for student scholarships over many years.

Denison Knowlton Center

Augustana College Athletic Complex

Mr. Knowlton was passionate about sports and particularly football, and had a long personal connection with Augustana College in Rock Island, IL. The Foundation partnered with Augustana in 2013 to create the Austin E. Knowlton Outdoor Athletic Complex, which includes the Charles D. Lindberg Stadium and the Ken Anderson Club, which have been called “the best Division III football and track & field facilities in the nation”.  In addition to the $9 million grant for these athletic facilities, Mr. Knowlton also funded Augustana’s large Austin E. Knowlton Memorial Scholarship as well as the college’s Honors program.

Augustana College Athletic Complex

Mount St. Joseph University Fitness Center

Late in 2018, the Foundation announced a $ 1.5 million grant for the creation of the Austin E. Knowlton Fitness Center on the Mt. St. Joseph campus in Cincinnati, Ohio.  The Fitness Center will be housed in a new building designed to facilitate and support recreation on the University’s campus.  The Center is expected to open in 2020.  The grant for the Center continues the long-term relationship between the Foundation and Mount St. Joseph University. Mr. Knowlton had a lifetime connection to sports and wellness and was a key early investor in both the NFL and MLB franchises in Cincinnati.

Mount St. Joseph University Fitness Center

Otterbein University Equestrian Center

A 70-acre bucolic setting in Westerville, Ohio, is home to the Austin E. Knowlton Center for Equine Science near Otterbein University. As an avid sportsman, Mr. Knowlton had a lifelong passion for saddle-bred horses. With a $ 1.2 million gift from the Foundation, the facility is a vital resource for the broader community and is focused on best practices in equine management techniques and education – it serves Otterbein students, the equine industry as well as the general public. The Center applies sound environmental and facility management practices which differentiates it from traditional equine facilities.


Oberlin College & Conservatory Athletics Complex

Built as state-of-the-art, particularly for a small higher education facility, the Austin E. Knowlton Athletics Complex replaced an outdated football stadium. With an $8 million gift from the Foundation, Oberlin and the surrounding area utilize the complex for a variety of sports including field hockey, football and lacrosse. The expansive facility includes locker rooms, meeting spaces and social areas.


Cincinnati Museum Center Science Stage

In 2019, Cincinnati Museum Center unveiled its Science Live! Stage Shows, creating theatre from science concepts to encourage engagement in physics, electricity and chemistry. Made possible through a $1.5 million gift from the Foundation, CMC’s Science Stage brings science to life through a regular weekend schedule of interactive demonstrations for all ages. The Stages will encourage STEM education among visitors to CMC who made more than 1.8 million trips to the Museum in 2019.

Cincinnati Museum Center Science Stage