Do you know somebody who is:

  • A change-maker working on the cutting edge of social innovation?
  • A leader collaborating and co-creating solutions to pressing social justice issues?
  • A visionary tackling immediate challenges while also addressing related systemic issues?
  • A mentor inspiring the next generation of social innovators?

Nomination Criteria

The 2020 Grinnell Prize Nomination Form is due at 11:59 p.m. CST, October 7, 2019. 

  1. Nominees must be nominated by a third party.
  2. Nominees may be a single individual or a team of two people who are working together and who are the primary project innovators.
  3. Each nominee must have earned a bachelor’s degree (or equivalent) between 2004 and 2020.
  4. Nominees should be forces for social justice.  The nominator should be able to demonstrate that the nominees, through their education, hard work, and dedication, have:
    • Identified a concrete social or environmental justice need;
    • Designed and implemented an equitable and creative solution related to that need;
    • Begun to address the need’s systemic and root causes; and
    • Demonstrated a substantive and sustainable community or environmental impact.
  5. Nominees must consent to their nomination. This consent will be given in the form of a letter that nominators upload in PDF format. (If you are nominating two individuals for collaborative work, nominees should write this letter together.) The letter will include:
    • A statement indicating their willingness to be nominated for this prize;
    • A statement confirming that they have completed an undergraduate degree(s) between 2004 and 2020, noting the name of the degree-granting college(s) or university(s); and
    • A 4-5 paragraph description of their social innovation that includes a summary of:
      • The context for the social justice need they are addressing 
      • Their work, including how it is innovative either in concept or implementation
      • The ways in which they are addressing immediate needs as well as systemic issues and root causes related to the need
      • The current and planned impact of their work
      • A biography that highlights:
        • The development of their interest and involvement with the social justice need
        • The connections between their work and their education
  6. Nominees should have demonstrated the essence of Grinnell College's broad liberal arts education through serving the common good and demonstrating expertise in the areas of critical thinking, innovative problem solving, and measurable systemic change making. 
  7. Nominees must not be widely known outside their immediate community or field. 
  8. Nominees may be nationals of any country. 
  9. Nominees do not need to be affiliated with Grinnell College.
  10. Nominees must have sufficient English fluency to engage with the Grinnell College community. 
  11. Nominees must be able to provide in English any supplemental information required as part of the selection process.  

Additional Notes

The nomination form includes three essay questions that will be used to evaluate the nominees’ ability to: 

  • Identify pressing social justice needs and utilize critical-thinking and problem-solving skills to solve issues related to that need;  
  • Be innovative and socially just in the design and implementation of their solution; and 
  • Demonstrate their solution’s current and potential social justice impact. 

Essay Questions: (Answers must be in English. Character count includes spaces.) 

1. Describe the social justice issue the nominee is addressing. (2500 character maximum)

Make sure to include:

  • The general challenge the nominee is working to change;
  • The systemic issues and/or root causes related to the challenge; and
  • The particular geographic or cultural conditions the nominee must consider in their change-making work.

2. Describe the model the nominee is using to address the social justice issue described in Question 1. In addition to your description, you may share a link to a website that has a visual representation or infographic of the nominee’s model. (2500 character maximum) 

3. Describe how the nominee’s work is innovative in design and/or implementation. (2500 character maximum)

Make sure to include:

  • How the nominee’s model is distinguishable from others addressing the same need;
  • How the nominee is involving stakeholders others have ignored; and
  • How the nominee is addressing the challenge in a manner that is more equitable than what others have done.

4. Describe how the nominee's model addresses not only the symptoms, but also the root causes of the issue(s) they are working to change. Explain how the nominee’s model supports short-term needs and begins to address longer-term sustainable solutions to the challenge. (2500 character maximum)

5. Describe the current and potential impact of the nominee's work. (2500 character maximum)

Make sure to include:

  • Any quantitative and/or qualitative evidence that supports the impact of the nominee’s work; and
  • How the approach or model might be scaled or replicated in other arenas.

If chosen as a winner,

  • The nominees' work and organization will be verified and validated by Grinnell College.
  • The nominees will be required to attend an on-campus award ceremony and symposium. (Travel and food costs will be covered by Grinnell College, but the winner is responsible for obtaining and the costs to obtain the necessary travel documents, e.g., visa, passport)
  • The nominees will be asked to explore additional opportunities for engagement with the Grinnell College community. (Additional engagement activities could include, but are not limited to, internships, teaching short courses, research projects, etc.)

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

The 2020 Grinnell Prize Nomination Form is due at 11:59 p.m. CST, October 7, 2019. 

Grinnell College reserves the right to modify the number of prizes awarded annually based on, but not limited to, the quality of nominations and financial considerations. The College also reserves the right to modify the criteria, requirements, and procedures as it deems necessary.

Please direct any questions to or to 1-641-269-4940.

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