Grinnell’s commitment to social justice and serving the common good is reflected in the college’s strong philosophy of student self-governance and personal responsibility, as well as in campus programs and initiatives that encourage students, staff, faculty, alumni, and the larger community to learn about civic issues and effect positive social change. Each year through various scholarships, fellowships, and awards the college recognizes individuals for outstanding commitment and innovation in serving the common good. Below are a few examples of such awards. 

Sarah Boyer ’08 Community Service Fellowship

The Sarah Boyer '08 Community Service Fellowship is given to one or more currently-enrolled students each year to fund a community service project within the Grinnell community. The fellowship is designed to allow one or more students to conduct a project over the summer to serve the common good. There are no restrictions on the class year of applicants, and the purpose of the fellowship is defined broadly so as to encourage student creativity about how they can best use their particular skills, talents, and interests to serve their community. Fellowship recipients may be able to pay to live in college housing, but the fellowship is considered a taxable benefit if taken. Fellows will submit either a final narrative or presentation after their summer, reflecting on what worked well; the impact this summer had on them and their community; and what they learned, along with a final financial accounting of how the funds were spent. 

For more information see Grinnell-Specific Awards.

Community Engagement Award

The Community Engagement Award annually provides up to three $1,000 grants to students who wish to implement a community improvement and enhancement project. The award is co-sponsored by the Student Government Association’s Student Services Committee as well as the Service Learning and Civic Engagement Program and the Community Enhancement and Engagement Office. Strong campus-community partnerships are a vital component of this award. Applications must demonstrate strong collaborative working relationships between students and local community partners. All applications must be endorsed by both students and an appropriate community partner.

For more information see Community Enhancement and Engagement Documents.

Lori Ann Schwab ’95 Prize for Community Service

The Lori Ann Schwab ’95 Prize for Community Service is a $1500 award given annually by Grinnell College to recognize a senior student's service to the campus and local community during their time here. While there are no restrictions on the use of the award, the recipient will be strongly encouraged to donate at least $500 to an organization with which he or she volunteered while at Grinnell. The recipient is announced during the commencement weekend Baccalaureate program, and the recipient's name is added to a plaque on permanent display in the Center for Careers, Life, and Service.

The Lori Ann Schwab Memorial Fund recognizes the spirit and memory of Lori Ann Schwab '95 and her commitment to making the world a better place by helping others. Lori died from a tragic illness during a study-abroad program in London. Lori, whose home was in Berkeley, California, was an art major and especially active at the college’s pre-school and in women's advocacy.

For more information see Grinnell-Specific Awards.

Lori Ann Schwab '95 Alumni Grant

Lori Ann Schwab '95 was committed to making the world a better place by helping others, but her life was cut short by a sudden illness while she was studying in London in 1994. The Lori Ann Schwab '95 Alumni Grant recognizes the ongoing community service of Grinnellians who were at the College with Lori. The grant provides stipends to support specific projects or fulfill the needs of nonprofit service organizations or public schools in which these individuals are significantly involved.


Grinnell College alumni (defined by the College as anyone who was enrolled at least one full semester) from the classes of 1992 through 1998 are eligible to apply for the grant.

Grant and Criteria

The number of grants awarded varies from year to year based on the financial performance of the fund and the number of applications deemed deserving. Each grant awarded is for a minimum of $250 and a maximum of $1,500. Applications for grants must demonstrate a tangible benefit to others. Stipends may be used to support original projects, to supplement existing projects or programs, or to fund professional development. Preference will be given to proposals that benefit children. The following examples of possible unfunded or underfunded needs (listed in random order) are meant to stimulate thought but not to limit ideas:

  • Books, art supplies, or science equipment
  • Health or safety outreach programs
  • Senior/school or "buddy" partnerships
  • Field trips to museums or environmental centers
  • Activities in homeless shelters
  • Attendance at conferences or workshops on learning disorders

The alumnus must be significantly involved as a staff member or a volunteer at the organization or public school that benefits from the grant. Organizations (with the exception of public schools) must be 501(c)(3)nonprofits as defined by the IRS.

Please note: Schwab Grant funds are sent directly to the alumni who receives the award, and may be treated as taxable income. Schwab Grant recipients may themselves donate the award to a non-profit agency, and in doing so may reduce their tax liability. If requested, Grinnell can pay the award in two halves in 2015 and 2016. All applicants for the Schwab Grant should consult with a tax professional to determine how receiving this award would impact their individual tax picture. Schwab Grant recipients may hold part of the award in reserve to offset any additional tax payments, but the plan to do so should be noted in their Schwab Grant budget. If the alumni who receives the award has non-resident tax status in the US, Grinnell College is required to withhold 30% federal tax unless the award is exempt under IRS tax code or a tax treaty.

Application Process

The deadline for applications is June 15, 2015. Members of the selection committee include faculty, staff, and alumni, who will consult with members of Lori Ann Schwab's family, and recipients will be recognized in College publications. To apply for the Lori Ann Schwab '95 Alumni Grant, please complete the Schwab Alumni Grant Application, which includes:

  • A 2-3 page brief essay which answers the following questions:
    • Describe your project. Why is it important? What are its goals?
    • Why is this project especially important to you?
    • What is your work plan (if applicable)?
  • A proposed project budget
  • Letter of support from your sponsoring organization/public school
  • Confirmation of 501(c)(3) status (if applicable)

Ethical Guidelines

All applicants are expected to adhere to these ethical guidelines.

Remembering Lori (excerpts of letters from her friends)

{C}Lori Ann SchwabIt is all too infrequently that we meet someone with Lori's smile, with her energy, and her enthusiasm for life and experience. She touched many people and taught them by example how to laugh, how to appreciate the art around them, and how to put their principles into action.

I have many memories of Lori being so happy because of the smallest things. She used to love telling silly jokes, and when she was telling them she had a grin that was so bright and happy you couldn't help but laugh. 

Lori was in constant communication with her friends, and it appears that everyone with whom she came into contact became a friend. This is a gift that few possess and even fewer use well.

Behind her giggles was a strength of conviction and a desire to conquer her fears, which she imparted to everyone who knew her.

I always appreciated our short conversations because I knew that when she asked how I was doing, she genuinely wanted to know. I remember when I broke my ankle.  At breakfast the next morning, Lori was there to bus my tray and help me to class. She carried my books as I hobbled along, knowing she'd be late if she walked with me.

Horace said, 'CARPE DIEM' - seize the day. Lori sure did that.

Lori had such a sweet soul. To talk merely of her smile and her warmth is only to scratch the surface.  I never felt I had to hide my true feelings from her, or be anything I wasn't, as she would never judge me. What shines forth is her passion for social justice and her compassion for those who have been unjustly deprived. In these stirrings of her heart, Lori was a person of rare and valuable commitment.

[Discussing a camper with Down's syndrome] During her one week with this camper, your daughter showed deep devotion to the idea of beating the odds. Never before have I seen such determination or courage. Lori was and always will be a tribute to camp counseling. She lived her life as a blessing,and I promise that as much as I am able, I will make her memory a blessing as well.

Lori found pleasure and comfort in ordinary places and things that most of us took for granted.

For more information, contact Paige Everly

Wall Alumni Award

During Grinnell College’s sesquicentennial celebration in 1996, the Joseph F. Wall ’41 Service Award was established as a tribute to the college’s 150 year tradition of social commitment. The award was named in honor of Joseph Wall ‘41, late professor of history and longtime dean of the college, who inspired an ideal of social responsibility in his students.

This year, the college will award two graduates with a prize of $25,000 each to either jump start or complete a project that shows creativity and commitment to effecting positive social change. Projects may be original or supplement existing programs; address issues specific to local communities or be of wider global concern; be carried out domestically or internationally. Any graduate of Grinnell College is eligible to apply, so long as they themselves will act as a principal of the project. 

Applications for the 2016 Wall Alumni Award are due by June 30, 2016 and will be reviewed by a committee composed of alumni and faculty, with a student representative. Winners will be invited to share their work with campus in meaningful ways.

Past Winners

  • Jenny Dale '06
  • Latona Giwa '09
  • Amy Smith ’95
  • Chase Strangio ’04
  • Jefferson Mok '02
  • Leah Bry '04
  • Catherine Foster Alter '60
  • Rebecca Mwase '07
  • Kirsten Anderson '00
  • Elizabeth Powley '93 and John Fuson '93
  • Kara Murphy '97
  • Alice Gates '97
  • Benjamin Hodgdon '96
  • Dave Calvert '75
  • Karry Coon-Carr '84
  • Luna Ranjit '00
  • Daniel Werner '91
  • Janet Olson '02
  • David Simmons '88
  • Jane Hayes '58
  • Sabrina Eagan '96
  • Theodore Massey '00
  • Anita Chakravarti Hale '94
  • Sarah Fee '86
  • Hollis Pfitsch '96
  • J. Scott Raecker '84
  • Amy Neevel '95
  • Lorie Hill '68
  • Anne Anderson '64
  • Sandra Stein '88 & David Loewenstein '88
  • Benjamin Whitehill '51
  • Trevor Harris '89
  • Doug Cutchins '93 and Anne Geissinger '93
  • Jenny Egan '49
  • Lynne Stoelting Leeper '67
  • Ric MacDowell '68
  • Tracy Huling ’77 and Brian Buckley ‘14
  • Alvin Irby ‘07
  • Bryan Boyce ‘08

Grinnell Prize

The Grinnell Prize — which annually presents winners with a prize of $100,000 — honors leaders who show creativity, commitment, and extraordinary accomplishment in effecting positive social change. 

The program directly reflects Grinnell’s historic mission to educate men and women “who are prepared in life and work to use their knowledge and their abilities to serve the common good.

The Grinnell Prize reflects our college’s longstanding commitment to educating men and women who will make a difference in the world,” said President Raynard S. Kington. “We have been impressed by the high quality of nominations that we’ve received in the first years of the prize, and our students benefit greatly from interacting with Grinnell Prize recipients in the classroom and in informal settings on campus. The Grinnell Prize honors those who ‘practice what we teach,’ and we are pleased to have this forum to recognize people who are raising visibility and creating innovative solutions for some of the world’s most pressing issues.

For more information see the Grinnell Prize page.