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Wanted: Applicants for new part-time positions with AmeriCorps

New Grinnell AmeriCorps Partnership team members will start in late January.

In response to community input, the Grinnell AmeriCorps Partnership is offering four new part-time positions. Applications will be accepted through Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2016.

"Since we launched our AmeriCorps member recruitment efforts earlier this fall, we have received positive feedback from community members who have expressed interest in serving as AmeriCorps team members," said Monica Chavez-Silva, assistant vice president of community enhancement and engagement.

"Many of these community members are interested in part-time options, so we have changed some full-time positions to part-time positions to better align with community interest and needs. We are now seeking four part-time members who will start in late January. Details will be available later this spring about additional summer positions to support summer learning."

Applicants for part-time positions should be interested in education and community, have demonstrated an ability to bring people together in order to get something done, and interact well with people, especially youth, from diverse backgrounds. Before beginning their service term, the four part-time AmeriCorps members will go through training to learn about the program's mission, priorities and individual member obligations.

AmeriCorps members will serve at community host-sites to support the advancement of community education priorities in the areas of school attendance and readiness, family and community engagement, and volunteer resources. The successful applicants will receive an AmeriCorps living allowance and an AmeriCorps education award (upon successful completion of service).

Individuals selected for the four part-time positions will serve at the following host sites:

  • Fairview Elementary School — One part-time member will address school attendance while the other will focus on students' readiness for school as part of the Voluntary Preschool Program
  • Grinnell Chamber of Commerce — One part-time member will concentrate on family and community engagement
  • Greater Poweshiek Community Foundation — One part-time member will work on volunteer Infrastructure

The application packet includes detailed service descriptions, benefits, qualifications and the application form.

Completed applications, which are due Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2016, can be emailed or mailed to Community Enhancement and Engagement at 733 Broad St., Grinnell, Iowa 50112.

For more information about the Grinnell AmeriCorps Member Service positions, email Community Enhancement and Engagement or call 641-269-3900.

Up From the Roots

Musicians Randye Jones of Grinnell College and Damani Phillips of the University of Iowa will commemorate the 150th anniversary of the ratification of the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution by sharing the rich history of the music of the African-American tradition.

The 13th Amendment, which officially abolished slavery in America, was ratified by the states on Dec. 6, 1865, eight months after the Civil War ended.

To mark this milestone, Jones and Phillips will present a free public lecture, "Up From the Roots," and a musical performance at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 4, in Herrick Chapel.

They will explore the development of music from the end of the Civil War to the Civil Rights Movement, including spirituals, gospel, jazz, blues, and rhythm and blues.

The Office of Intercultural Affairs and the Office of Diversity and Inclusion are sponsoring the event.

Grinnell welcomes and encourages the participation of people with disabilities. You can request accommodations from the event sponsor or Conference Operations and Events.

Randye Jones

Randye JonesJones, a soprano and researcher, is a doctoral student in vocal literature at the University of Iowa. She also serves as media room supervisor in Burling Library at Grinnell College.

Jones has gained recognition for her writings on African-American vocalists and composers, and as a performer and lecturer through her projects, "The Art of the Negro Spiritual, Afrocentric Voices in Classical Music," and the recently published "The Spirituals Database."

She regularly presents lecture-recitals and concerts, and serves as a panelist at events such as the Research, Education, Activism, and Performance (REAP) National Conference on Spirituals, African American Art Song Alliance Conference, and the National Association of Negro Musicians conference.  

Damani Phillips

Damani PhillipsPhillips, formerly on the music faculty at Grinnell College, is an assistant professor of jazz studies and African-American studies at the University of Iowa.

An active saxophone player, pedagogue, and composer, Phillips has taught and performed throughout the United States, England, and Japan, and is actively sought as a guest artist, clinician and adjudicator. Phillips has performed with artists/groups such as Lewis Nash, Christian McBride, the touring Dave Matthews cover band "Crush," and many others. He has released five albums of his own, including his most recent recording project, "Duality," a double album featuring a unique synergy between straight-ahead jazz and hip hop music.

Campus Climate Solidarity—Call to Action

In recent weeks, many historically underrepresented students have been deeply affected by events highlighting racism and inequity occurring across the country at various colleges and universities. In this timely moment, we have an opportunity to be proactive about the campus climate at Grinnell College and take time come together in solidarity towards long-term change in a sustainable way.

Concerned students, staff, and faculty have gathered and have co-created a list of recommendations that highlight key areas of campus life—inside and outside the classroom—that should remain in our collective consciousness and be addressed in order for sustainable change towards a more inclusive environment for all at Grinnell College. The following is a small part of an ongoing conversation, understanding not only that we must all work collectively across all levels of the college both interpersonally and structurally, but also that this is an ongoing commitment that we are invested in order to live out the college’s mission of social justice.

President Kington, Dean Latham, and the College administration strongly support the creation of a more inclusive and equitable campus climate. College staff are currently reviewing the proposed steps in detail and the plan is likely to include many of the items listed here. We will post progress updates on a quarterly basis, and will offer clear explanations of the status of recommendations to indicate which may be immediately accomplished, which will require further discussion and planning, and which may be impossible for regulatory or other reasons.

Policy Review and Implementation

  • Education to develop clarity around Bias-Motivated Incident Protocols
  • Overall improvement of our data collection and ongoing assessment of diversity and inclusion initiatives
  • Review of work-study regulations and the implications on students coming from a lower SES
  • Publish the results of reviews and consultant visits
  • Implement a class-free day of programming for faculty, staff, and students to discuss social identities, power, and privilege
  • Divestment from for-profit prisons

Curricular Recommendations

  • Time devoted in every tutorial class to discussing –isms in contemporary society
  • Additional curricular offerings that directly address –isms in contemporary society
  • Creation of African-American Studies Major and Concentration

Co-Curricular Recommendations

  • Raising awareness around contemporary issues of Indigenous Peoples
  • Programming around knowing your rights when faced with discrimination
  • Portion of the Innovation Fund dedicated to projects focused on Diversity and Inclusion
  • Student Advisors in the Residence Halls expanding their programming to include diversity and inclusion dialogue
  • Bringing in more speakers of color through the Rosenfield, Wilson, Departmental programs (also curricular)
  • Continuing to raise awareness on Title IX, Race-Related issues, individually and their intersectionality
  • Provide funding for opportunities to connect to schools, regional and national organizations who are involved in diversity and inclusion work full-time

City of Grinnell-Grinnell College Relations

  • Partnership with City Officials to develop protocols around responses to bias-motivated incidents that occur in the city of Grinnell
  • Create community relations and mentor programs to facilitate increased meaningful connection between the college and the City of Grinnell
  • Partner with Grinnell Police Department to educate around issues of bias related to students

Training and Development Opportunities

  • Ongoing and regular diversity and inclusion training for staff, faculty, and students that address the curricular and co-curricular experience
  • Expanding diversity and inclusion programs during and beyond New Student Orientation for all students
  • Fall and Spring semester diversity and inclusion training for student leaders and student groups that includes how to have hard conversations, implicit bias, microaggressions, privilege, and power
  • Address the cultural appropriation in menu nomenclature and theme nights in the dining hall
  • Providing additional information and context to our international students of color about the history of U.S. racism and training on how to navigate their identities in that space

Recruitment and Retention Strategies

  • Increase recruitment of faculty and staff from diverse backgrounds
  • Increase recruitment of students from diverse backgrounds
  • Increase retention efforts for students, staff, and faculty of color, including exit interviews for underrepresented staff, faculty, and students who leave
  • Departmental review to examine successes and failures at retaining underrepresented faculty and staff
  • Increase the number of shuttles to cities across the state (Des Moines, Iowa City, Cedar Rapids)
  • Provide a concerted effort to ensure that students, staff, and faculty have access to mental health providers from diverse backgrounds who are trained to work with diverse populations

Alumni Connections

  • Developing a focused mentoring program for alumni and students
  • Establishing an intercultural alumni weekend so that current students can network with underrepresented alumni

Physical Spaces

  • Decorating spaces (art, murals, etc.) that reflect the various identities on our campus


Our School: Film Screening and Panel Discussion

Watch a free public screening of Our School, followed by a panel discussion, at 2 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 22, in the Community Room of the Drake Community Library, 930 Park St., Grinnell, Iowa.

This award-winning documentary follows the lives of three Roma (“Gypsy”) children who participate in a project to desegregate the local school in their Transylvanian town in Romania. With parallels to the Little Rock Nine and the history of desegregation in the U.S., this film uncovers an abhorrent civil rights issue in Europe but also provokes recognition of similar, ongoing racial inequities in U.S. education. Shot over four years, this poignant story captures how racism, poverty, language differences, and special education labels work to disenfranchise Roma children from equitable schooling. It is a captivating, human story wrought with humor, beauty, and tragedy.

Snacks will be provided. Film time is 94 minutes, followed by discussion.

The event is sponsored by Grinnell College's Cultural Films Committee and the Department of Education.



The Paris Attacks, ISIS, and the Refugee Crisis

Come hear from faculty experts at the "Current Events Panel: The Paris Attacks, ISIS, and the Refugee Crisis," at 4 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 18, in Joe Rosenfield ’25 Center, Room 101.

Bring your questions. Everyone is welcome to attend this free, public event sponsored by the Rosenfield Program in Public Affairs, International Relations, and Human Rights.

Grinnell welcomes and encourages the participation of people with disabilities. Rosenfield Center has accessible parking in the lot to the east. Room 101 is equipped with an induction hearing loop system. You can request accommodations from the event sponsor or Conference Operations and Events.

Reducing Political Polarization

Jacob Hess and Phil Neisser Phil Neisser and Jacob Hess, political opposites and co-authors of You're Not as Crazy as I Thought (But You're Still Wrong): Conversations between a Die-Hard Liberal and a Devoted Conservative will host two Iowa caucus-related events Nov. 19 and 20.

Their workshop, "How to Reduce Political Polarization without Compromise," will teach strategies for engaging in more civil and productive political conversations. The event, which is free and open to the public, will take place from 4-6 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 19, in Joe Rosenfield '25 Center, Room 101.

Neisser and Hess will also give a free public lecture, titled "Using Dialogue as Civic Engagement, On and Off Campus," at 4 p.m. Friday, Nov. 20, in Rosenfield Center, Room 101. The workshop and lecture cosponsors are the Rosenfield Program in Public Affairs, the Peace and Conflict Studies Program, President Raynard S. Kington, and the Ombuds Office.

For two years, Neisser, a leftist; and Hess, a conservative; have been engaging in difficult and in-depth conversations about controversial political issues, including sexuality, race, big government, and big business. Working to reduce polarization by both pressing each other and listening to each other, the two compiled highlights of their conversations into their book, You're Not as Crazy as I Thought. The book was featured on the popular public radio show This American Life.

Neisser is a professor of political theory at the State University of New York at Potsdam, where he also serves as the associate dean of Arts and Sciences. A gifted teacher, he received the SUNY Potsdam Presidential Award for Excellence in Teaching in 2000. Neisser is also the author of United We Fall: Ending America’s Love Affair with the Political Center, as well as several acclaimed essays in various political science books.

Hess, a psychologist, is research director at Utah Youth Village, a nonprofit for abused children in the Rocky Mountain region. In 2009, he completed his Ph.D. dissertation research on long-term depression treatments. He has written 13 peer-reviewed articles and two books. A teacher of mindfulness-based stress reduction, Hess co-founded All of Life, a nonprofit that educates people about scientific discoveries in brain science and how these findings can be used to help overcome mental and emotional challenges.

Grinnell welcomes and encourages the participation of people with disabilities. You can make accommodation requests to Conference Operations and Events.

Story Time Study Break

With a backdrop of children’s book illustrations from African artists (courtesy of Grinnell Prize winner Golden Baobab), come listen to children’s stories from around the world at 7 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 15, in Burling Gallery.

We will share a story or two, then have books available to read together in small groups.

Bring your friends from everywhere. We especially welcome Big Brothers and Big Sisters to bring their Littles, and International Students to bring their host siblings. 

Milk, cider, and cookies for all. 

Hosted by Friends of Faulconer Gallery.



The Folklore of the Freeway: Connectivity, Creativity and Conflict in the Age of Highway Construction

Eric AvilaEric Avila, professor of history, Chicano studies, and urban planning at UCLA, will present "The Folklore of the Freeway: Connectivity, Creativity and Conflict in the Age of Highway Construction" at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, November 11 in Joe Rosenfield '25 Center Room 101.

Avila currently serves as associate dean for equity, diversity and inclusion for the Division of Social Sciences. As an urban cultural historian of Los Angeles and the United States in the twentieth century, Avila is author of Popular Culture in the Age of White Flight: Fear and Fantasy in Suburban Los Angeles and The Folklore of the Freeway: Race and Revolt in the Modernist City.  Currently, he is writing American Cultural History: A Very Short Introduction for Oxford University Press.

He studies the intersections of racial identity, urban space, and cultural representation in twentieth century America. Anyone with an interest in American history, urban studies, race relations, or the relationship between communities and development will be interested in his talk.

For the Center for the Humanities series on “Sites of Creativity: Streets, Salons, Studios, and Schools", he will talk about communities of color and their resistance to the building of highways in this way mapping the creative strategies devised by urban communities to document and protest the damage that highways wrought.


Grinnell AmeriCorps Partnership announces local host sites

The Grinnell AmeriCorps Partnership today announced the host sites participating in community-wide capacity building and addressing specific Grinnell-area education priorities.  

Numerous community organizations applied to become host sites for the service members being selected to advance Grinnell's Campaign for Grade Level Reading and support the local Graduate Skills Gap initiative. Service members will be assigned to the various sites.   

The Grinnell AmeriCorps Partnership is a community-wide effort to advance Grinnell's Campaign for Grade Level Reading and support the Graduate Skills Gap initiative in Grinnell, Iowa. Focusing on these initiatives, AmeriCorps members will be placed in local community organizations to support work in each of the five key focus areas of the Campaign for Grade Level Reading: 

  • Prevention of summer learning loss, 

  • Prevention of chronic absence from school, 

  • Making sure youngsters are ready for school, 

  • Making sure students are healthy and read to learn, and 

  • Encouraging parent and family engagement. 

In addition, AmeriCorps members will provide core "backbone" infrastructure, such as community and volunteer engagement to advance early childhood literacy and assist with the community's Graduate Skills Gap pilot programming. 

The host sites and the projects they will focus on are: 

  • Drake Community Library — Summer learning 

  • Fairview Elementary School — School attendance and school readiness at the Voluntary Preschool Program  

  • Grinnell Regional Medical Center — Healthy readers 

  • Poweshiek Iowa Development working with Grinnell Mutual — Graduate Skills Gap initiative 

  • Grinnell Chamber of Commerce — Family and community engagement 

  • Greater Poweshiek Community Foundation — Volunteer infrastructure 

  • Grinnell Area Arts Council working with Grinnell Community Daycare and Preschool and Galaxy Youth Program — After-school enrichment 

"We are thrilled with the host sites and are excited about the community support for the program," said Monica Chavez-Silva, assistant vice president of community enhancement and engagement at Grinnell College. "We are pleased to report that the program is moving full steam ahead with the filling of several of the positions, and we are looking forward to getting those members on board by the end of November." 

For the remaining unfilled positions, a plan is underway to convert those positions to part-time opportunities, based on feedback that this would make it easier for more people to participate. Details about the revised positions will be made available in the coming weeks, once the official plan has been submitted and approved by the Iowa Commission on Volunteer Service, the granting agency.  

For more information about the part-time positions, please contact the Office of Community Enhancement and Engagement, (641) 269-3900. 


Uninsured? Fewer Services, Less Readmission, More Death.

Amanda Cook '03Alumni Scholar Amanda (Andy) Cook ’03 returns to Grinnell to present "Uninsured?  Fewer Services, Less Readmission, More Death.  A Study of Maryland's Hospitals" at noon Tuesday, Nov. 10, in ARH 120.  Cook's visit is sponsored by the Department of Economics

Cook is currently a Ph.D. candidate at Purdue University.  She received her master's in economics in 2011 from Vanderbilt University, and her bachelor's in mathematics from Grinnell.  Cook’s research interests include health economics, industrial organization, and applied microeconomics.