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Community Enhancement and Engagement

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Applications for 2016 Grinnell College Community Mini-Grants Available Now

Grinnell College is now accepting applications for the Community Mini-Grants Program, which provides catalyst funding for small- to mid-scale projects. Support focuses on promising initiatives that addressissues of importance tothe campuscommunity and thecommunity atlarge including cultural, recreational and educational projects, those addressing human needs, and those enhancing the safety and beauty of our surroundings.

Based on feedback from the community and nonprofit organizations, two cycles of mini-grants will be offered in the 2016-17 academic year. In the first cycle, applications will be due Friday, Sept. 30, with awards being announced by Friday, Nov. 18. The second cycle will have applications due Monday, April 3, 2017, with awards being announced by Friday, May 19, 2017.

"By offering two grant cycles, the hope is to allow grant applicants more opportunities for the development and funding of projects throughout the year that will enhance the quality of life in our community and help make Grinnell a more attractive place to live, work and study," said Sarah Smith, program manager with the office of community enhancement and engagement.

Since its inception in 2002, the Community Mini-Grants program has directed more than $348,000 toward 158 community initiatives and range from $1,000 to $7,500. They are intended to support promising initiatives that enhance the social and economic vitality of the Grinnell area. These include cultural, recreational and educational projects, as well as projects addressing human needs and enhancing the safety and beauty of the community.

Preference will be given to proposals that:

  • Leverage additional funds
  • Demonstrate collaborative partnerships in the community
  • Build organizational and financial capacity
  • Improve over what has been done in the past
  • Show commitment that the desired result will be achieved and
  • Have promise of making long-term impact

Applications for 2016-17 mini-grants, cycle one, are due by Friday, Sept. 30. You may download an application or obtain one from the College's Community Enhancement and Engagement office at 641-269-3900

Share the Joy of Choral Music

John RommereimStarting Monday, Aug. 29, the Grinnell Oratorio Society will begin rehearsals for a December performance of Handel’s “Messiah” with a professional orchestra and soloists. The chorus is open to all — Grinnell students, faculty, staff, and community members, and does not require an audition.

Rehearsals will be held from 7-9 p.m. Mondays at Sebring-Lewis Hall in the Bucksbaum Center for the Arts, 1108 Park St., Grinnell. The performance of the “Messiah” will start at 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 4, in Sebring-Lewis Hall. For more information, email John Rommereim, Blanche Johnson Professor of Music at Grinnell College. 

“The Grinnell Oratorio Society provides a wonderful opportunity for area singers to rehearse and perform exciting music with others who are passionate about singing,” says Rommereim, director of the group.

Originally founded in 1901, the Grinnell Oratorio Society was, in the early decades of the 20th Century, one of Iowa’s most auspicious musical institutions. Edward Scheve (1865-1924), a composer of symphonies, concertos, oratorios and chamber music, established the choir as an outgrowth of the music conservatory that was then part of Grinnell College.

In 2010, the Grinnell Community Chorus was renamed the Grinnell Oratorio Society as a way to draw attention to this proud history. The choir draws together students, faculty, and staff of the College, people from the town of Grinnell, and nearby communities such as Newton and Malcolm. 

Free Summer Merchant Matinee Movies

Free tickets for the summer merchant matinee series are available at the Office of Community Enhancement and Engagement and the Pioneer Bookshop. Watch a free movie at noon and 2:30 p.m. every Tuesday and Wednesday,  July 5–Aug. 10, at the Strand Theatre.

 Admission is by ticket only and seating is limited. 

Here is the schedule:

  • July 12 and July 13  — Kung Fu Panda 2
  • July 19 and July 20 — Alvin and The Chipmunks: The Road Chip
  • July 26 and July 27 — Hotel Transylvania 2
  • Aug. 2 and Aug. 3 — Norm of The North
  • Aug. 9 and Aug. 10 — Goosebumps


The Grinnell AmeriCorps Partnership receives second year of funding

Grinnell College Iowa AmeriCorps logoGrinnell College has received a second year of AmeriCorps funding to support the Grinnell AmeriCorps Partnership's education initiatives, according to a recent announcement by the Iowa Commission on Volunteer Service.

Similar to the first year, the grant of $141,474 will provide for up to eight AmeriCorps service members to convene community-based education partnerships and another 38 AmeriCorps service members to help with summer learning programs. Grinnell College will contribute staff support for grant administration.

The new AmeriCorps members will have the opportunity to strengthen community coalitions to help ensure that Grinnell’s children get off to a strong start so they can succeed in school in the early years, and that older students end with a strong finish so they’re prepared to do well after graduation.

Grinnell College was the lead applicant on the grant and is one of 19 organizations across Iowa receiving funding through the Iowa Commission on Volunteer Service.

“This is a terrific vote of confidence in our community’s work and a recognition of the tremendous support the community offered in this first year,” said Monica Chavez-Silva, assistant vice president of community enhancement and engagement at Grinnell College.

“The AmeriCorps grant was a critical catalyst for the first year of the program activating 29 AmeriCorps members who brought new energy and creativity to a host of community education initiatives," she added. "But none of it would have been possible without the support of individuals and organizations across the community.”

Some of that local support included generous donations of $10,000 each from Grinnell Mutual Reinsurance and the Claude W. and Dolly Ahrens Foundation, and an additional $15,000 in grants generated by the Greater Poweshiek Community Foundation. Additional support came from the daily participation by host site supervisors throughout Grinnell and the creative energy of more than 165 volunteers serving on community taskforce groups. 

“It’s great news that Grinnell was awarded this grant,” said Karen Neal, youth services director at Drake Community Library and host site supervisor for the Summer Learning initiative. “We’re really doing something tangibly different. We’re helping right where we need it and we’re doing it together. As a whole community, we’re helping kids.” 

Laura Manatt, executive director of Poweshiek Iowa Development, also expressed appreciation for the second year of grant funding. "This grant will help us continue the strategic work we have begun connecting local employers, community schools and Iowa Valley Community College to address current skills gap concerns and ensure there is a sustainable, skilled workforce in the future.”

First-Year Projects

Projects made possible in the first year of the Grinnell AmeriCorps Partnership include:

Summer Learning:
Tripling enrollment in summer school programming for K-3 summer school students with a new afternoon enrichment offering, and a month-long daily expansion of Drake Library’s “In Your Neighborhood” outreach program with transportation to Grinnell High School for the free lunch program.
School Readiness
#Read Everyday Grinnell far exceeded its goal of having students from pre-kindergarten through third grade read for 100,000 minutes. Total minutes read reached 1 million. Students also gained readiness for school through the expansion of the Early Learning Extravaganza and a kindergarten-readiness summer camp.
Volunteer Infrastructure:
Identifying and piloting a community-wide volunteer database that can be used by volunteers and organizations throughout the community.
Family and Community Engagement:
Web and newsletter outreach, community meal outreach, videography, and taskforce reporting.
Attendance Week publicity, summer-school family outreach, and family peer support for those who struggle to attend school regularly.
Healthy Readers:
“Wellness Wednesdays” at the elementary schools, “Wellness at the Market” at Farmer’s Market, and new volunteers for expanded Mileage Club activities at the elementary schools.
Skills Gap:
A new high school internship program at Grinnell Mutual Reinsurance Company that included “soft skill” training and college credit and a “career pathway” audit to better connect graduates with local employment opportunities.
Afterschool Enrichment:
Integration of district learning goals into fun, after-school activities at the Grinnell Area Arts Center and Grinnell Community Daycare and Preschool.

2015–16 AmeriCorps Members and Host Sites

The 2015-16 AmeriCorps members and host sites were: 

  • Beth Crow (Summer Learning-Drake Community Library),
  • Doug Cameron (Attendance-Fairview School),
  • Jess Kite (School Readiness-Grinnell Voluntary Preschool Program),
  • Melissa Berman (Healthy Readers-Grinnell Regional Medical Center),
  • Deloris Cowan (Skills Gap-Poweshiek Iowa Development),
  • Jacob Washington (Family and Community Engagement-Grinnell Area Chamber of Commerce),
  • Lee Smith (Volunteer Infrastructure-Greater Poweshiek Community Foundation), and
  • Mary Zheng (Afterschool Enrichment-Grinnell Area Arts Council).
  • 2016 Summer Learning Corps members serving with Fairview School and Drake Community Library were Avery Brennan, Isabel Brydolf, Reba Brooks, Josephine Chaet, Anna Cunningham, Simone Downs, Hanna Drennan, Lica Ishida, Erin Johnson, Regan Kasprak, Jon Lof, Olivia Maharry, Felicity Meads, Rita Mertens, Charlotte Moisan, Roland Roger, Jackson Schulte, Regan Sharp, Jaidenn Sheridan, Molly Skouson and Tanner Tokle.

About AmeriCorps

AmeriCorps is administered by the Corporation for National and Community Service, a federal agency that engages more than 5 million Americans in service through AmeriCorps, Senior Corps, the Social Innovation Fund, and the Volunteer Generation Fund, and leads the President's national call to service initiative, United We Serve.

Thank You, Summerfest Attendees

Grinnell College would like to thank all who attended the 2016 Grinnell College Summerfest. 

Hundreds of visitors of all ages from around Iowa and other states visited the Grinnell College campus on Saturday, June 11, for a daylong celebration of learning and discovery that included performances, workshops, lectures, and food offerings. 

If you were one of the hundreds that visited, we hope that you enjoyed the festivities and welcome any feedback.  If you were unable to attend this year, please consider joining us next year. 

We invite you to enjoy a selection of photos of the day.

Grinnell College Summerfest: create, learn, discover

Summerfest 2016

Join Grinnell College from 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Saturday, June 11, for Summerfest, a daylong celebration of learning and discovery for curious minds of all ages.

Girl Bending Backward on TightropeFeaturing Chicago's Aloft Circus Arts: original stories through movement, dance, and aerial performances.

Come early!

Enjoy live music as well as lectures and workshops by:

  • Grinnell College faculty
  • Science Center of Iowa
  • Blank Park Zoo
  • Neverland Players
  • The Plain Mosiac
  • Eulenspiegel Puppets

Food trucks will include Bahn Me, Dragon Wagon, 515 Pi, Kona Ice, Take the Cake Gourmet Cupcakery, Grinnell College Dining Services, and Uncle Bill's Kettle Corn.

View an up-to-the moment listing of the day's offerings. Check us out on Facebook.

Faulconer Gallery Outreach in the Parks

This summer, Grinnell College’s Faulconer Gallery is offering free, hands-on art activities for children and families in various locations on weekday mornings.

The Faulconer Arts Outreach in the Parks will give children a choice of activities at each session held in city parks and on campus. Activities include ceramics, painting, drawing, collage, glitter-truck decorating, sculpture, and more.

No registration is required, and parents are welcome to participate with their children.

Each event will take place from 10:30 a.m. to noon.

The Faulconer Arts Outreach program runs from June 13 through July 22 with the following events:

  • June 13 — Arbor Lake Shelter House, 123 Pearl St.
  • June 15 — Bucksbaum Center for the Arts, north side, 1108 Park St.
  • June 20 — Merrill Park West Shelter, 915 11th Ave.
  • June 22 — Summer Street Park, 720 Summer St.
  • June 27 — Bailey Park, 1220 Prairie St.
  • June 29 — Ahren’s Park #1, Intersection of Eighth Avenue and Penrose Street
  • July 6 — Bucksbaum Center for the Arts, north side, 1108 Park St.
  • July 11 — Drake Community Library, 930 Park St.
  • July 13 — Bucksbaum Center for the Arts, north side, 1108 Park St.
  • July 18 — James Miller Park, Lake Nyanza, Intersection of East Street and Davis Avenue
  • July 20 — Bucksbaum Center for the Arts, north side, 1108 Park St.
  • July 22 — Poweshiek County Fair, Poweshiek County Fairgrounds, 425 East St. S.

Grinnell College does not assume responsibility for the care and safety of children who attend these events. The College makes this program open to the public with the understanding that a parent, legal guardian, or other designated caregiver remains responsible for the care and protection of children who attend.

For more information, contact outreach curator Tilly Woodward, 641-269-4663.

Grinnell welcomes and encourages the participation of people with disabilities. Accommodation requests may be made to Conference Operations and Events.

Mini-Grant Awards

A dozen local projects and initiatives will benefit from $35,000 in grant support this year from the Grinnell College Mini-Grant Program.

Community Enhancement and Engagement supports the College’s mission by helping our hometown become an energetic place to live, work, and study through grants that enhance the experience of life in Grinnell.

One grant program that provides catalyst funding for small- to mid-scale off-campus projects is the Mini-Grant Program. These grants focus on arts and culture, as well as recreational and educational initiatives that address human needs and enhance the safety, beauty, and economic vitality of the area. Since 2002, the program has directed more than $348,000 towards 164 community initiatives.

“We are pleased to help support so many wonderful projects in Grinnell that make our community even stronger. It is amazing to see all of the initiatives funded in 2016 and the amount of strength they will give to Grinnell, both now and in future years,” said Sarah Smith, program and communications manager for Community Enhancement and Engagement.

The College has awarded mini-grant funding to the following 12 initiatives for 2016:

  • Grinnell Newburg Educational Excellence, towards the purchase of a grand piano for the Grinnell High School Auditorium to enable all students in the Grinnell Newburg School district to have the opportunity to hear the quality of music produced by a Steinway Grand Piano. ($5,000)
  • Grinnell Area Arts Council, toward the purchase of an iPad to incorporate STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and math) concepts and learning into the Arts Academy. ($2,000)
  • Grinnell Area Arts Council, for the Grinnell Public Art Initiative and the vitality these pieces of art will bring to the community. ($5,000)
  • Grinnell Community Daycare and Preschool, for professional development for the entire staff to increase the quality and programs offered at the daycare and preschool. ($1,335)
  • Grinnell Historical Museum, for “Our Prairie Town,” a third-grade social studies text, which will help students gain understanding and appreciation of the history of their hometown. ($2,500)
  • Grinnell Regional Medical Center, towards the purchase of a Patient Care Simulator to enhance GRMC’s employee training and practice-care techniques prior to caring for patients. ($2,582)
  • Grinnell Outdoor Adventure Club Scaling Frozen WaterfallGrinnell-Newburg Community School District, for the Grinnell Outdoor Adventure Program to offer students an opportunity to experience the outdoors while also developing leadership skills. ($5,000)
  • Grinnell Little League, for new softball equipment, which will contribute to the safety and enjoyment of the children involved in the program. ($2,000)
  • Imagine Grinnell, for a bicycle repair station to assist cyclists who use the Grinnell Area Recreational Trail. ($2,500)
  • Poweshiek County Fair Foundation, for renovation of the kitchen at the fairgrounds to increase utilization of the fairgrounds through improved facilities. ($2,000)
  • Poweshiek County Heritage Park, towards construction of a sidewalk, ramp, and porch at Heritage Park, which will enhance safety and accessibility ($2,583)
  • St. John’s Lutheran Church-Grinnell Giving Gardens, for improving access to fresh, locally grown vegetables and fruit to individuals experiencing low incomes or food scarcity. ($2,500)

For more information about the mini-grant program, contact Sarah Smith, 641-269-3900. Learn more about the College's community contributions at Community Investments.

Payroll Deduction Program

Giving through Payroll Deduction is a great way to make a gift to the organizations that make a difference in Grinnell and our local communities.


The Payroll Deduction Program was formalized in 2006 as a convenience to employees and a courtesy to local area charities. By spreading your donation over the course of a year, Payroll Deduction simplifies the giving process and makes it easier to budget for larger donations.