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Winners of 2012 Grinnell Prize for social change announced

Thursday, Sep. 6, 2012 12:00 am

Grinnell, IA - Grinnell College has announced the winners of the second annual  Grinnell Prize honoring young innovators for social change: Cristi Hegranes, executive director and founder, Global Press Institute; Jacob A. Wood, president of  Team Rubicon, and William B. McNulty III vice president of Team Rubicon (shared award); and Jane Chen, CEO of Embrace Innovations and co-founder, Embrace, and Linus Liang, Embrace co-founder and COO (shared award).

The Grinnell Prize, which received nominations from 45 countries, honors individuals under the age of 40 who have demonstrated leadership in their fields and who show creativity, commitment and extraordinary accomplishment in effecting positive social change.  Each winning entry receives $100,000, half to the individual(s) and half to an organization the winner(s) designates, for a total of $300,000 awarded this year in prize monies.

The pool of nominees for the Grinnell Prize spanned a diverse array of social issues, including hunger relief, disaster relief, childhood education, economic development, the environment, literacy, community-produced news, youth arts, fair housing, violence prevention, immigration, GLBTQ, restorative justice, public access to healthcare delivery, children’s mental health, urban agriculture, and global peace, among others.

“I’m delighted to announce these truly inspiring individuals as the winners of the 2012 Grinnell Prize. These young men and women embody Grinnell’s long-standing mission to prepare students to go out into the world and use their education for the benefit of the common good,” said Grinnell College President Raynard S. Kington, M.D., Ph.D. “Since we launched the Grinnell Prize two years ago, we have learned about a remarkable number of young people who are striving to make the world a better place. Our 2012 winners represent the ideals of the prize program in every way possible.”

Details for the second annual Grinnell Prize winners are as follows:

After observing numerous problems within her profession while working as a foreign correspondent in Nepal, Hegranes founded the Global Press Institute (GPI) to confront two specific challenges she observed: “the decline of quality international journalism and the need for more women’s economic empowerment.” Through GPI, Hegranes uses journalism as a development tool to educate, employ and empower women to produce high-quality local news coverage that elevates global awareness and ignites social change.

Hegranes has built a network of professional women journalists throughout the developing world – all of whom earn a fair wage for reporting about their communities. Their unique coverage of issues, specifically those often overlooked by the mainstream media, contributes directly to community development and empowerment and also brings greater transparency and change to the way the world views their people and cultures.

To help combat reintegration problems faced by many U.S. veterans, Wood and McNulty founded Team Rubicon to unite the skills and experiences of military veterans with medical professionals who deploy first-response teams to disaster areas. Since its founding in January 2010, Team Rubicon has successfully affected thousands of lives, including victims of global and national disasters and returning U.S. military veterans. While providing aid on the streets of Port-au-Prince in the aftermath of the Haitian earthquake, Team Rubicon veterans realized that natural disasters present many of the same problems that confront troops in Iraq and Afghanistan: unstable populations, limited resources and horrific conditions. The skills cultivated by those on the battlefields – emergency medicine, risk assessment and mitigation, teamwork and leadership –are invaluable in disaster zones. By helping veterans transfer these critical skills, Team Rubicon has given hundreds of military men and women  a renewed sense of purpose and has pioneered a new paradigm in disaster response that  helps fringe victims outside the scope of where traditional aid organizations venture.

In 2007, Chen and Liang created a $200 infant warmer in response to a challenge posed during a Stanford University course and following a trip to Nepal where they witnessed firsthand the high infant death rates in developing countries due to hypothermia. Reduced from the normal $20,000 cost of an incubator, the infant warmer can be used in remote regions of the world without a continuous supply of electricity. Realizing that their innovation solved a small part of a large problem – specifically poor maternal and child health outcomes in developing countries – Chen and Liang are also working on preventive measures including education in remote areas such as Jhagadia, India and Banadir, Somalia, where their infant warmers are provided.

Embrace is also investing in research and development to create additional, low-cost health innovations to improve both women’s and children’s well-being.  Early this year, Chen and Liang created the for-profit venture Embrace Innovations, which will license the technology from Embrace and work on manufacturing, distribution and research for new products.

The winners will visit the Grinnell College campus the week of November 12 to participate in the Grinnell Prize Symposium and awards ceremony.  Through public lectures and interactions with students and the campus community, the winners will share their experiences and perspectives of how they were able to create innovative programs to effect positive social change.

Jerry Greenfield, co-founder of Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream, will be the keynote speaker on Nov. 14. Before age 30, Greenfield and business partner Ben Cohen opened an ice cream shop in Burlington, Vt., that has since spawned a global brand. Though known for its ice cream, Ben & Jerry’s also has a strong commitment to “a sustainable corporate concept of linked prosperity.” Greenfield and Cohen are devoted not only to product and economic missions, but also to a progressive, nonpartisan social mission that “seeks to meet human needs and eliminate injustices” in their local, national and international communities by integrating the social concerns of their mission into day-to-day business activities.

Nominations for the 2013 Grinnell Prize are open through Nov. 5.

Grinnell College is a nationally recognized, private, four-year, liberal arts college located in Grinnell, Iowa.  Founded in 1846, Grinnell enrolls 1,600 students from all 50 states and from as many international countries in more than 26 major fields, interdisciplinary concentrations and pre-professional programs.

Wadzanai Motsi ’12 awarded Watson Fellowship

Friday, Mar. 16, 2012 12:00 am

Grinnell, IA -  

Grinnell, IA
3/16/12

Grinnell College senior Wadzanai Motsi has been awarded a prestigious Watson Fellowship for one year of independent study and travel abroad. Motsi, an independent major in international relations from Zimbabwe, is one of only 40 students nationwide to receive the $25,000 fellowship from the Thomas J. Watson Foundation.

Motsi plans to use the Watson Fellowship to learn about the motivation for political activism among students and youth in Tunisia, Ghana, the Czech Republic, and Cambodia.

“My objective is to attend student union meetings and work with youth organizations as these countries gear up for national elections,” Motsi said. “I plan to examine why young people are politically active and why they choose specific avenues to express their views.”

At Grinnell, Motsi has served as vice-president of the student government association, a member of the women’s varsity tennis team, and led a service trip to Nashville, Tenn. She hopes to return to Africa following her Watson year.

The Thomas J. Watson Fellowship Program offers college graduates of unusual promise a year of independent exploration and travel outside of the U.S. to foster effective participation in the world community. Within the past 10 years, 18 Grinnell students have won Watson Fellowships.

Grinnell College is a nationally recognized, private, four year, liberal arts college located in Grinnell, Iowa. Founded in 1846, Grinnell enrolls 1,600 students from all 50 states and from as many international countries in more than 26 major fields, interdisciplinary concentrations, and pre-professional programs.

 

Advisory: Social Entrepreneurs group finalist in White House competition

Wednesday, Feb. 29, 2012 12:00 am

Grinnell, IA -  

The Social Entrepreneurs of Grinnell (SEG), a student-run nonprofit microfinance lending organization at Grinnell College, is one of 15 finalists in the White House “Campus Champions of Change Challenge.”

SEG was chosen from more than 1,400 submissions and is the only small college finalist and the only from Iowa. The Campus Champions of Change initiative highlights innovative ideas on college campuses across the country and aims to inspire others to get involved in their communities.

In its five years of operation, SEG has expanded from providing international loans in remote communities to also working to improve conditions in local communities. The microfinance organization has loaned more than $37,000 to 44 countries, with $13,000 going to 25 individuals in the Grinnell area.

The project selected for the competition—SEG’s Local Loans Project—provides emergency, no-interest microloans to individuals for medical expenses, automobile repairs, education, and repayment of high-interest loans from payday loan sharks.

Voting for the Challenge continues until Sat., Mar. 3 at 11:59 p.m. EST. The top five finalists will be invited to an event at the White House, will be featured on mtvU and MTV Act, and the overall winner will host an episode of mtvU’s signature program, “The Dean’s List.”

To speak to a SEG student coordinator, please contact Cindy Deppe, communications, deppec@grinnell.edu, 641-269-4834.

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"Listening, Learning, Leading on the Global Stage" by World Food Prize lecturer Jo Luck

Monday, Sep. 26, 2011 12:00 am

Grinnell, IA - 2010 World Food Prize laureate Jo Luck, president of Heifer International, will deliver a public lecture at Grinnell College on Wed., Oct. 12 about her experiences in leading the world hunger assistance organization. Her lecture, “Listening, Learning, Leading on the Global Stage,” will be held at 5:30 p.m. in Harris Center Cinema on the Grinnell campus. A light buffet dinner will precede in the Harris Center atrium. At 6:30 p.m., following the lecture, there will be a public reception in the atrium with music by Too Many Strings Band.

Luck served as president and CEO of Heifer International from 1992 to 2010, and director of international programs from 1989 to 1992. Under her leadership, the organization, which brings food- and incoming-producing livestock to impoverished families, grew from 20,000 to 500,000 supporters and expanded scope of efforts throughout Africa, the Americas, Asia and the South Pacific, and Central and Eastern Europe.

Grinnell has hosted World Food Prize lecturers for more than six years as part of a World Food Prize outreach program at Iowa educational institutions during the week the prize is awarded. The 2011 World Food Prize will be awarded at the state capitol Oct. 13 to John Agyekum Kufuor, former president of Ghana, and Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, former president of Brazil, who led significant hunger and poverty reduction efforts in their respective countries.

Luck’s lecture is sponsored by the Rosenfield Program in Public Affairs, International Relations, and Human Rights. Harris Center is located at 1114 10th Ave. on the Grinnell campus. For more information about the Rosenfield Program, contact Sarah Purcell, purcelsj@grinnell.edu, 641-269-3091. Grinnell welcomes the participation of people with disabilities. Information on parking and accessibility is available on the college website. Accommodation requests may be made to Conference Operations at 641-269-3235 or calendar@grinnell.edu.

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"Live in HD" bringing the Metropolitan Opera to Harris Center

Friday, Feb. 10, 2012 12:00 am

Grinnell, IA - Grinnell College has partnered with New York City’s Metropolitan Opera to offer the final three shows of the 2011-12 season “Live in HD” at the Harris Center Cinema on the Grinnell campus. Each show will be preceded by a half-hour opera talk by Jennifer Williams Brown, associate professor of music at Grinnell.

On Sat., Feb. 25, the Italian opera “Ernani,” composed by Giuseppe Verdi, will be presented with English subtitles. Audience members should plan to arrive by 11:30 a.m. for the opera talk, with the performance to begin at noon.

The French opera “Manon,” composed by Jules Massenet, will be performed on Sat., Apr. 7. Audience members should arrive by 10:30 a.m. for the opera talk, with the English-subtitled performance to begin at 11 a.m.

Verdi’s “La Traviata” will be performed on Sat., Apr. 14 at noon, with the opera talk to begin at 11:30 a.m. The opera will be sung in Italian with English subtitles.

Synopses of the shows are available at http://www.metoperafamily.org/metopera/history/stories/. Details for the 2012-13 “Live in HD” season will be announced at a later date.

Tickets are required for each performance and can be purchased at the Harris Center on the day of the show: $15 for adults, $10 for students. Tickets will also be on sale at the Pioneer Bookshop in downtown Grinnell, beginning Feb. 17. For ticket questions, call 641-269-3235.

Harris Center is located at 1114 10th Ave., with available parking east of the center on 10th Ave. Grinnell welcomes the participation of people with disabilities. Information on parking and accessibility is available on the college website. Accommodation requests may be made to Conference Operations at 641-269-3235 or calendar@grinnell.edu.

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