The Grinnell Education Partnership, a campus community initiative, brings together community nonprofits, area employers, the Grinnell-Newburg School District, and community volunteers. Supported by a team of AmeriCorps members embedded in host sites across the community, the partnership is helping to ensure that Grinnell’s kids get both a strong start and a strong finish to their school experience.
By working together in new ways, the partnership scales up community-developed initiatives in order to:
give students a strong start so they can succeed in school in the early years; and
help students with a strong finish so they are prepared to do well after graduation
Listen to the Networks for Social Impact podcast with Northwestern University Professor Michelle Shumate as she interviews Monica Chavez-Silva to learn about the Grinnell Education Partnership. Monica shares about the campaign and how this program originated and continues to evolve and thrive in the rural community of Grinnell. To hear the full podcast, visit: Rural Networks for Social Impact in Education. For the full podcast series, visit: Networks for Social Impact in Education Series
The community’s interest in working together to better support local kids and families began when the school district was introduced to the national Campaign for Grade-Level Reading in the spring of 2013–14. The enthusiasm grew rapidly with a unanimous decision by 20+ community organizations to apply to join the campaign. A 2015 grant transformed the effort by funding a team of AmeriCorps members to support both the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading for young students as well as a skills gap initiative at the high school level. AmeriCorps members continue to support community organizations by adding capacity and/or performing direct service so all of Grinnell’s youth can start and finish strong.
Since 2015–16, the Grinnell Education Partnership has engaged more than 160 AmeriCorps members, involved more than 20 local organizations and involved more than 300 volunteers who have contributed over 1,000 hours of volunteer time. In addition, the partnership has piloted or enhanced more than 20 community-based programs and generated nearly $70,000 in grant funding and private donations to support community-based learning activities.
Through countless new initiatives catalyzed by community-wide collaborations, the partnership has increased community capacity and improved student success.
The Grinnell Education Partnership has been recognized on the state and national level for effective cross-sector collaboration benefiting kids and families.
2016 Leave It Better Than You Found It Award for highly collaborative community involvement and effective success during its initial stages. (Grinnell-based Claude W. and Dolly Ahrens Foundation)
2017 Pacesetter Award for outstanding alignment between private, public, and social sectors to achieve measurable progress in literacy achievement (Campaign for Grade Level Reading)
2018 Bright Spot for inspirational solutions (Campaign for Grade Level Reading)
2018 Council of Champions for extraordinary individual contributions. Five community members were inducted into the Council of Champions for their outstanding contribution to the campaign — Sarah Seney, Karen Neal, Chad Nath, Doug Cameron, and Julie Gosselink (Campaign for Grade Level Reading)
2019 Presidential Excellence Award for volunteerism(International Town and Gown Association)
2019 Pacesetter Award for demonstrating population-level progress in the key progress indicator of grade-level reading proficiency in K-3 for low-income children. Also received recognition for serving as a proof point in strengthening cross-sector collaboration, interagency partnership and community-wide mobilization (Campaign for Grade Level Reading)
2019 Pacesetter Community Honors for supporting early school success with exemplary work in big tent collaboration. (Campaign for Grade Level Reading)
2019 Pacesetter Award for reporting significant progress in improving school attendance and chronic absence. (Campaign for Grade Level Reading)
2019 Outstanding Nonprofit Collaboration Award for demonstrating excellence in collaborative efforts that increase the effectiveness and efficiency of services with the long-term goal of enhancing Iowa communities (State of Iowa)
2020 President’s Engaged Campus Community Partner Award and Community Collaboration Award (Iowa/Minnesota Campus Compact)
In 2018, Grinnell began collaborating with statewide Iowa Campus Compact for maximum impact and scale. Through continued collaborations with Iowa Campus Compact and Volunteer Iowa, the community of Grinnell benefits from the dedication and creativity of many AmeriCorps members per year.