Philanthropic Endeavors through Community Enhancement

The Office of Community Enhancement & Engagement supports the College’s core mission by helping our hometown become an even stronger place to live, work, and study. Serving as a liaison between Grinnell College and the surrounding community, the office administers the College’s gifts and grants, and actively facilitates other town/gown connections to enhance the experience and vitality of life in Grinnell.

The Liberal Arts in Prison Program

The Liberal Arts in Prison Program enrolls people in prison in a demanding, rich college program equivalent to a year at Grinnell College. Included in the program is a student volunteer project that supports and supplements the College’s accredited education program. The student volunteer project fosters reciprocal learning that enriches lives both inside and outside the fences of the Mitchellville and Newton prisons and affirms the transformative power of a liberal arts education.


The Office of Development and Alumni Relations is located in what was once known as the Old Glove Factory. The College renovated this historic building and turned what was an eye sore into a bustling center of college and community activity. 

Grinnell College alumni are involved in serving the common good in innumerable ways.  In addition to serving professionally through organizations like the Peace Corps, the Lutheran Volunteer Corps, and many other similar service organizations, Grinnell College alumni are also committed avocationally to life-long volunteer service. 

The office offers opportunities for alumni to help current students with their service projects, provides alumni avenues to help students build professional and service-related networks, and offers opportunities for alumni to serve nationally and internationally together with Grinnell Prize winners.

Off-Campus Study

Each year, large numbers of Grinnell students, representing 55% to 60% of every graduating class, are accepted into a wide range of off-campus study programs both abroad and elsewhere in the United States. Students study abroad throughout the world: Asia, Australia, Latin America, Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and various locations in the U.S. Participation is open to all qualified students, regardless of major, and possibilities for study exist in virtually all subject areas.

Off-Campus Study (OCS) is an opportunity for students to broaden their liberal education and enhance their understanding of global contexts. While not required, students often find themselves serving and volunteering both inside and outside their academic settings.

Faculty Publishing & Incentives for Innovative Teaching

Grinnell College’s strategic plan encourages innovative pedagogies such as inventive forms of rigorous and academically relevant service-learning, as well as groundbreaking, community-based research projects. These forms of innovative teaching:

  • Allow students to experience and articulate ways in which a liberal arts education may be applied in a constantly changing world
  • Enrich students’ academic experience and can serve as a launch pad for multiple life and career paths
  • Provide avenues to apply academic knowledge and hone professional skills in diverse, real-world environments
  • Expand the concept of what constitutes valuable learning spaces and broadens the context of where students feel learning may take place

Such innovations in teaching are taken into consideration in faculty tenure and promotion decisions. Resources are available through the Service Learning and Civic Engagement Program for faculty to publish in areas related to community-based research, service-learning, and other innovative community-based, experiential pedagogies. 


Grinnell athletics teams have a long history of giving back to the local community. Various teams provide clinics for local children, run food drives, cook for the free community meal, host philanthropic races, package food for the Kids Against Hunger program, give swimming lessons, provide college mentors for children, tutor, and much, much more.  In many years teams even challenge each other to see who can do more for the community.   For more information on current projects contact the student athletic advisory council.


Grinnell’s distinguished programs and centers help students delve deep into their interests with hands-on experience that complements their individual curriculum. These programs connect Grinnellians with individuals and organizations around the globe. They bring global leaders to speak on campus; host workshops; create internship, service, and research opportunities; and much more.

For more information see:

Center for the Humanities
Center for International Studies
Center for Prairie Studies
Noun Program in Women's Studies
Peace and Conflict Studies Program
Rosenfield Program in Public Affairs, International Relations, and Human Rights
Donald L. Wilson Program in Enterprise and Leadership