Welcome to the service and social innovation aspect of the Center for Careers, Life, and Service (CLS).


 The CLS's service and social innovation team seeks to engage and equip the next generation of socially just change-makers.


Our vision is to design and support mutually beneficial partnerships that are community driven and serve the common good. These partnerships shall leverage the unique expertise and interests of our community as well as that of our students, faculty, staff, and alumni. In this manner we aim create a socially just opportunities for students to intentionally explore how service and social innovation may blend with one's personal values, academic interests, and emerging professional skills and goals.


  • Sustainability: Service and social innovation endeavors should be contextually responsive, well researched, fiscally responsible, and aim toward respectful, sustainable positive change. Every effort should be made to understand the larger social, economic, and environmental consequences of proposals and projects and should not only focus on short term solutions, but longer term, systemic change.
  • Diversity & Inclusion: Service and social innovation endeavors inevitably entail cross-cultural experiences. Successful endeavors acknowledge the power dynamics at play in the activity and honor the strengths and voices that each participant brings to the table.
  • Reciprocity: Service and social innovation endeavors do not only benefit the community. Each participant both gives and receives. Every effort should be made to develop relationships where all parties honor each other's needs and strengths while also assessing the equity of how each party is both giving and receiving.
  • Collaborative Partnerships: Service and social innovation partnerships should be characterized by mutual trust and respect, guarding against becoming colonialism in the guise of service.

Principles of Partnership

Community based work relies on partnership and collaboration.  The Grinnell College community subscribes to and practices the 9 Principles of Partnership in all service, social innovation, and volunteer work.

  1. Partnerships form to serve a specific purpose and may take on new goals over time.
  2. Partners actively strive to understand each other's needs and self-interests, and develop a common language.
  3. The partnership builds upon identified strengths and assets, but also works to address needs and increase capacity or growth of all partners.
  4. The partnership seeks to balance power and share resources among partners.
  5. All partners have input in establishing clearly articulated principles and processes for the partnership.
  6. Partners seek to agree upon a mission, values, goals, measurable outcomes, and accountability for their partnership.
  7. There is feedback among all stakeholders in the partnership, with the goal of continuously improving the partnership and its outcomes.
  8. Partners share the benefits of the partnership's accomplishments.
  9. Partnerships can dissolve and may need to plan a process for closure.