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The Grinnell College Community Service Program (CSP) encourages students to view service as experiential learning and as an opportunity to make a difference in their community. The CSP functions as a clearinghouse for individual and group volunteer activities, and assists over 350 students in more than 20 volunteer programs both on and off campus.
Student commitment to social responsibility has been a large part of the Grinnell College's history. Grinnell acted as a center for abolitionist activity before and during the Civil War, and later it played a key role in the Social Gospel Reform Movement. During the New Deal, President Franklin D. Roosevelt appointed Grinnell alumni, including Harry Hopkins '12, Paul Appleby '13, and Hallie Flanagan '11.
Founded in 1988, the mission of the CSP is to support volunteer projects that address poverty related issues, promote positive social change, and develop cross-cultural understanding. While empowering both students and community members to take action, service projects educate volunteers about pressing social concerns. These projects develop a sense of civic responsibility in the participants and strengthen ties between the college and the community.