Transformative Foundation Grants
Transformative Foundation Grants - Completed Projects:
Augustana College Academic Health & Wellness
The Peter J. Lindberg, MD, Center for Health and Human Performance, opened in 2021 and funded through a $9 million grant from the Foundation, is a 52,000 square foot integrated academic, athletic and wellness facility that serves as a gateway to Augustana’s campus. The Center houses new academic programs and facilities for kinesiology, health sciences, physical fitness, mental well-being and nutrition, and features classrooms, fitness laboratories, a test kitchen, faculty offices, collaboration spaces, a meditation “orb” and an aquatic center. Both Mr. Knowlton and the Foundation’s co-founder Charles Lindberg had deep lifetime connections to sports and wellness as well as long personal relationships with Augustana College, and the Center honors the legacy of Mr. Lindberg’s brother Dr. Peter Lindberg, a 1961 graduate of Augustana who dedicated his life to human wellness and healing.
Augustana College Athletic Complex
Mr. Knowlton and Mr. Lindberg were passionate about sports and particularly football, and had long personal connections 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 Prison Education Program
Launched in 2021 with exclusive support from the Foundation, Augustana College offers full four-year degrees to incarcerated men within the East Moline Correctional Facility. Modeled on the Bard Prison Initiative, professors hold in-person classes within the facility with highly selective admission, and students who are released prior to completion of their degree may transfer to complete their studies on Augustana’s main campus. As of 2023, more than forty incarcerated men are working towards their Augustana undergraduate degrees.
Aviation Education & Research Facilities at The Ohio State University
As a business pioneer who used aircraft to travel to far-flung construction sites, Mr. Knowlton recognized that commercial aviation was an important economic driver of America’s economy. 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, a project which grew to more than $30 million including the Austin E. Knowlton Executive Terminal and Aviation Education Center and the Knowlton Flight Center. The new facilities feature state-of-the-art flight simulators, labs and classrooms, and a unique learning environment in which OSU’s flight school is integrated with professional flight operations within the Executive Terminal. Mr. Knowlton based his personal aircraft at Ohio State’s airport for decades, and this project has been transformational to the performance of the airport with total aviation school enrollment growth of 102% and a 117% increase in fuel sales since the Foundation’s investment.
Baldwin Wallace University STEM Center
Announced in 2019 and completed in 2021, the 55,000 square foot Austin E. Knowlton Center is Baldwin Wallace’s first new academic building in more than fifty years and houses state-of-the-art STEM collaboration and teaching spaces including the school’s mathematics, computer science, engineering and physics departments. The Foundation’s lead $8 million gift led to total project funding of $25 million, and the Center features sophisticated fabrication and robotics labs, opening new academic and research opportunities for Baldwin Wallace. In his lifetime, Mr. Knowlton was a continuous proponent of the sciences, engineering and technology.
Bluffton University Science Center
The Knowlton Science Center at Bluffton University, opened in the fall of 2023, will transform Bluffton’s chemistry, biology and nutrition facilities with state-of-the-art learning laboratories and support facilities. Via a $4 million grant from the Foundation, the Center eventually expanded to a final $15 million project with 32,500 square feet of new space. Mr. Knowlton was a lifetime proponent of the importance of improving science and math education for American students.
Centre College Center for Science and Mathematics
Completed in 2020, the Austin E. Knowlton Center for Science and Mathematics is a large $3 million expansion and renovation within Centre College’s Olin Hall. Centre launched a new data science academic program which is now housed within the Knowlton Center along with the school’s chemistry, computer science, environmental studies, mathematics and physics departments. The Center added 11,700 square feet of modern laboratories, classrooms and offices bringing Olin to approximately 50,000 square feet of STEM facilities.
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.
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, a $41 million total project which was completed in 2018 to house Wooster’s biology, chemistry, biochemistry, molecular biology, neuroscience and environmental studies programs.
Denison University 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 starting in 2016 with long-term grant commitments that now total $23 million. 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. Since the opening of the Knowlton Center, Denison has risen to be ranked as one of the top colleges in America for career readiness.
Mount St. Joseph University Fitness Center
Opened in 2021, the Austin E. Knowlton Fitness Center provides Mount St. Joseph’s athletic teams and students with a modern, extensively equipped workout and exercise facility, and is integrated within the University’s new Centennial Field House which features a large indoor multi-purpose turf practice space. The $1.5 million grant for the Center continues the long-term relationship between the Foundation and Mount St. Joseph. 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, just a few miles from MSJ’s campus.
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.
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 and the general public. The Center applies sounds environmental and facility management practices which differentiates it from traditional equine facilities.
Ronald Reagan Institute – Leadership and the American Presidency
Through its partnership with the Ronald Reagan Institute, the Foundation helped create Leadership and the American Presidency, a unique summer program for college students in Washington, D.C. Leveraging the resources of the Institute’s D.C. presence adjacent to the White House, college students work hands-on to experience how the Federal government works with a particular focus on the importance and power of the Presidency. The program models Ronald Reagan’s collaborative leadership style and emphasizes the importance of respecting differing viewpoints in resolving conflicts.