These projects take courage and creativity. You have to work with, or around, institutions that may not be keen on change. You have to find new ways to raise money, as the Amherst pair did, by, among other things, holding date auctions on campus. You have to get communities you are working with to buy in. And you cannot expect much compensation or recognition because social change work is often neither lucrative nor popular.
That's why Raynard Kington, Grinnell's new president, created the prize soon after his arrival (he's being inaugurated Saturday). He hoped the recognition and three $100,00 prizes, half of which goes to the winners and half to their organizations, would help affirm and support transformational grass-roots projects, and offer Grinnell students alternative models of leadership. Kington himself embodies a different model of leadership. He has a medical degree, is gay, black and raising two young sons with his partner.
And while college presidents are often picked to bring in money, he's giving it out, for social change. But that's entirely in line with Grinnell's historical mission, and it's a great way to keep academia socially relevant.