Friday, Nov. 10, 2017 6:40 pm

Two Grinnell College seniors, — Yesenia Ayala and Kayla Estes — have been selected for the 2018 class of Principal Community Scholars Program. They are two of 25 college students from Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin selected for the program.

The recipients were chosen by Iowa Campus Compact after being nominated by faculty or staff from their college or university and undergoing a rigorous review process. The Principal Community Scholars program is designed to encourage student leadership to meet community needs. Selected students will receive a $1,000 scholarship from Principal upon completion of a service project. This is the second year of the program, which last year supported 20 students in Iowa and California.

"This year we decided to focus on students in the Midwest and got a strong pool of nominations," said Iowa Campus Compact Executive Director Emily Shields. "These students have a deep commitment to bringing business solutions to meet community issues."

This year's scholars proposed projects designed to engage their peers and their institutions. These projects tap into a variety of skills that can be offered by college students and will impact causes ranging from education to neighborhood vitality through research, fundraising, communications and other means.

Yesenia AyalaAyala, a senior sociology and Spanish double-major from Los Angeles, will publish a culturally competent mentoring and college-access curriculum that will assist students of color in rural Iowa. The publication will be distributed to schools in Iowa as well as nonprofit organizations that strive to empower and inform these communities.

Ayala’s project is an extension of work she has done through Service Learning Work-Study and various internships sponsored by Grinnell College's Center for Careers, Life and Service. Ayala has previously been recognized as a Truman Scholar, a Posse Scholar and a White House Champion for Change. Yesenia’s project is an extension of work she’s done through Service Learning Work-Study and various CLS sponsored internships.

"Yesenia was nominated for her skill and dedication to the cultural, community development and economic success of local communities," said Keira Wilson, assistant director of service and social innovation at the Grinnell College Center for Careers, Life and Service. "Her ability to understand systematic issues and build capacity among her peers has allowed her to accomplish impactful projects. She has been building community-supported curriculum for three years, and her continued work broadens that capacity, locally and nationally."

Kayla EstesEstes, a senior sociology major from Carbondale, Illinois, will design a fundraising campaign focused on endowment gifts for the Greater Community Daycare and Preschool in Grinnell. The preschool, established in 1969, serves socioeconomically diverse students because of its sliding fee scale. The organization cannot afford to pay its staff more than an average of $9.10 an hour.

Estes's service project aims to develop a fundraising campaign and connect with donors to support higher wages for child care workers. Estes' project is an extension of her SPARK Community–Based Social Innovation project, which she is continuing through a Service Learning Work-Study position with the Greater Community Daycare and Preschool.

"Kayla Estes was selected for her project based on her research and dedication to serving the local community," Wilson said. "She has developed a foundation for this project through community capacity-building and worked closely with Greater Community Daycare and Preschool to best understand the wage needs for local childcare providers."