Major Investments and Donations

Grinnell College chooses to invest heavily in the local community — both to contribute responsibly to important public resources and also to help the town be a strong asset in attracting students, faculty, and staff.  Since the Community Enhancement (now Community Partnerships, Planning, and Research) program was formalized in 1999, Grinnell College has invested over $10 million in community development initiatives.

Focus Areas

Grinnell College's local investments support College and community strategic priorities, such as:

  • Education
  • Healthcare
  • Public infrastructure
  • Downtown development
  • Historic preservation/adaptive re-use
  • Parks and recreation
  • Economic development


Grinnell College's approach to giving is the philosophy that major contributions should be strategic investments in the community's health and vitality and that we should work in partnership with other community organizations.  When considering our participation, Grinnell College works with community leadership on a project-by-project basis and typically looks for:

  • Impact on the broader community
  • Impact on the College community
  • Degree of broader community support/partnership

Financial Approaches

Grinnell College employs a varied toolbox, customizing the financial approach to the project at hand.  Approaches we have used to date include:

Donations. Cash or real estate donations to community capital improvements. Past examples include:

  • Medical center improvements
  • High school additions/renovations (gym, auditorium, and science wing)
  • Public safety building
  • Park and trail improvements

Investments. Equity investments in local LLCs with community enhancement purposes. Current examples include:

  • Strand Theatre LLC
  • Greater Grinnell Development Inc.

Campus Improvements with a Community Focus. Improvements to College facilities specifically designed to address both campus and community needs, including:

  • Old Glove Factory. Adaptive reuse of a historic manufacturing plant into College offices and community meeting space.
  • 8th Avenue. Traffic calming, as well as service and streetscape improvements for a city street bisecting campus.
  • Pioneer Bookshop.  College bookstore on the downtown square.
  • Natatorium. College aquatic center designed to accommodate both campus and community competitive swimming including youth and high school swim teams.
  • Civic Engagement Quad. A unique facility at the nexus between the College campus and Grinnell's central business district. This project is anchored by Renfrow Hall —a student residence honoring Edith Renfrow Smith, Grinnell College class of ’37 and Grinnell High School class of ’32 — and, like its namesake, will link the town and College together in shared experiences. 

For more information about the College's major community investments, please feel free to contact the Office of Community Partnerships, Planning, and Research.

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