History of Grinnell Prize
The Grinnell College Innovator for Social Justice Prize, or the Grinnell Prize, directly reflected Grinnell’s historic mission to educate men and women “who are prepared in life and work to use their knowledge and their abilities to serve the common good.”
Grinnell was founded in 1846 by a group of transplanted New Englanders with strong Congregational beliefs who were dedicated to social reform. They organized as the Trustees of Iowa College — originally in Davenport, Iowa. In 1859 the trustees moved the College to newly settled Grinnell, Iowa, where their abolitionist sentiments were more welcome. At the time, Grinnell was an important stop on the Underground Railroad that secretly transported slaves to freedom.
Grinnell’s social consciousness blossomed during Franklin D. Roosevelt’s presidency, when graduates Harry Hopkins 1912, Chester Davis 1911, Paul Appleby 1913, Hallie Ferguson Flanagan 1911, and Florence Stewart Kerr 1912 became influential New Deal administrators.
Today, Grinnell’s commitment to social justice continues through a strong philosophy of self governance and personal responsibility, as well as programs and initiatives that encourage students to learn about the world beyond the campus and effect positive social change. With the creation of the Grinnell Prize, the College extended its educational mission beyond the campus and alumni community to individuals anywhere who believe innovative social justice programs create a better world.
The Social Innovator in Residence program offers the next step in social innovation giving students, faculty and staff the opportunity to engage in high-impact experiential learning through longer-term, nurtured relationships with social innovators who will become part of the Grinnell College Social Innovation Professionals Network. The transition from the Grinnell Prize to the Social Innovator in Residence program reflects the college's desire to create a sustainable, long-term platform for social innovation at Grinnell College.