Volunteering & Community Service
Volunteering and doing community service while at Grinnell not only has a positive effect on our community, but is also beneficial for you! Volunteering gets you out of the campus bubble and provides you with opportunities to learn more about yourself. Who knows, it may even put you on a path to your future career.
Volunteering allows you to:
- Make a difference and feel good about doing so. Even small acts of kindness can have a profound impact on others.
- Meet a wide array of diverse and interesting people who challenge your perspectives personally and academically.
- Learn valuable life and professional skills that you will use long after you graduate from Grinnell.
- Concretely live out your values and demonstrate to others what is important to you.
- Meet other students at Grinnell who care about the same things you do.
Community Service Work-Study
Students taking part in Grinnell College’s Community Service Work-Study Program are compensated for their service work with a local non-profit organization. This program gives you the opportunity to develop the collaborative leadership skills needed to become a socially responsible and responsive member of society. You’ll not only help with the day-to-day activities of your partner organization, but collaboratively develop and lead particular, sustainable service or social justice projects related to the organization's philosophy and scope of practice. In order to facilitate your project and help your partner organization, you’ll be asked to identify or lead a group of student volunteers committed to the work of the partner organization or project. These volunteers serve as a link between your partner organization and the larger Grinnell College community, sponsoring activities and events that raise awareness about local issues and encouraging additional campus engagement.
Curricular to Co-curricular Bridge Program
One of the drawbacks of curriculum-based service and community-based research projects is they are often bound by the college’s academic schedule or by a particular class’s timetable, which may not be beneficial or appropriate for our community partners’ stated needs. To overcome this limitation and be more sensitive to the needs of our community, the college has set aside a limited amount of work-study funds and additional resources that allow students to continue or implement a project started or proposed in a service-learning or community-based research class. Community partners and faculty come together to identify and suggest projects that would benefit from the resources of this bridge funding program. Under the continued supervision of the faculty member, the community partner, and the Service Learning and Civic Engagement Program, students are given one to two semesters to complete their project and/or find the means to make it self-sustaining. – e.g. find ways to make themselves obsolete.
Alternative Break Service Opportunities
The AltBreak is a student-run organization that offers students the opportunity to travel as members of an intentional community of service during semester breaks. AltBreak trips introduce students to new perspectives and issues, enhance leadership and team-building skills, facilitate educational and hands-on community service opportunities, and promote personal growth and reflection. Each semester the AltBreak Student Administrators, mentored by Susan Sanning, the Assistant Director of Service Learning & Engagement, select three or so pairs of students to lead service projects with various community partners across the nation.
Core Values of AltBreak:
- Service- and issue-based rather than destination-focused trips
- Direct, hands-on service can lead to a greater understanding of a pressing societal issue
- Intentional, substance-free community living and reciprocal reflective learning
- Simple living with a focus on the service issues at hand
The ReNew disaster relief program is another alternative break service program supported by the college. Also coordinated by student leaders and mentored by Susan Sanning, ReNew is both an issue- and place-based program. Trips sponsored by this program focus on the long-term rebuilding of particular communities that have been devastated by environmental disasters. ReNew creates and sustains enduring relationships with particular relief organizations and the places they serve following natural disasters. The group’s goal is to continue to care and help long after the initial media hype and interest have waned.
ReNew originally began its work in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina and still occasionally serves in New Orleans, but now also works in communities such as Joplin, MO (2011 EF5 tornado) and Cedar Rapids, IA (2008 floods). By continuing to work in communities over the long haul, ReNew gives participants the opportunity to dive deeply into the long-term issues brought about by a specific disaster and understand how those issues change over time. The program continues its commitment to cultivating diversity, respecting self-governance, and group cooperation by working, exploring, cooking, and living simply and substance-free together.
Student Groups & Service
One of the unique aspects of student life at Grinnell is that the Student Government Association (SGA) has asked each student group to have a stated service goal in order to register and gain campus recognition as a student organization. SGA currently recognizes over 125 different student organizations – that’s 125+ service goals! The groups’ service goals can be found on each organization’s online OrgSync profile. Some examples are:
American Sign Language Club “Hands On!:” Hands On intends to create an outreach program at Grinnell Middle School so that middle school students have opportunities to learn American Sign Language under the guidance of Hands On! mentors.
Busy Bee Keepers: The Busy Bee Keepers aim to teach people about beekeeping and promote pollination of local agriculture as well as raise awareness about pressing bee issues such as colony collapse disorder.
Drake Tutors: The Drake Tutors will provide drop-in homework help for 3rd to 8th grade students at the Drake Community Library Monday through Thursdays from 4:30 to 5:30.
Grinnell Women’s Ultimate Frisbee: Grinnell Ultimate Frisbee commits to preparing and cooking at least once at the free, community meal. In addition, the group hopes to sponsor a local ExCo educational event on Frisbee throws.
Iowater: Iowater collaborates with community members and organizations to monitor our streams and increase awareness about Iowa's water quality.
Queer People of Color (QPOC): One of QPOC's main events is the QPOC Drag Extravaganza. This fundraiser takes place each semester and benefits health clinics that serve the local community.