Wilson Center Programs

Immersive Experiences to Strengthen Your Skills

The Wilson Center organizes and sponsors a variety of marquee programs intended to inspire students and develop their knowledge and skills in leadership and innovation. Many of these programs have been started and led by students, serving as a means to practice and refine innovation and leadership skills. Wilson seeks to encourage innovation and leadership in a broad range of contexts by organizing programs that include a community-collaborative social entrepreneurship program, our own TEDx event, a speaker series, leadership workshops, and innovation and pitch competitions.

Student participants of SPARK program with Ramsey Weeks Truck


Community-Based Social Innovation Challenge

The SPARK community-based social innovation challenge offers Grinnell organizations and students the opportunity to work together to address poverty-related challenges faced by the larger Grinnell community. The SPARK short course will provide a series of workshops to help students build their skills in researching and effectively presenting solutions to social problems.

Bail Abolition Network receives a $2000 check during Pioneer Weekend.

Pioneer Weekend

Entrepreneurial Innovation Pitch Challenge

Pioneer Weekend is a three-day innovation and pitch competition. The objective of Pioneer Weekend is to bring together student innovators to develop and pitch a business or non-profit plan. It encourages hands-on experiences, helps develop skills critical to entrepreneurship, and provides valuable feedback to your entrepreneurial endeavors.

Four students with a flowchart slide during presentation to a panel of event judges.

Innovate GC Challenge

Social Justice Innovation challenge

A week-long competition to innovate a product that can help alleviate a social justice issue. 

outside of HSSC


Idea Incubator and Fund

The Wilson Center Catalyst offers dedicated open hours each week in the form of a creative thinktank staffed by student mentors with a network of Grinnell alumni, experienced entrepreneurs, and industry professionals. The Catalyst is designed to nurture, develop, and transform the innovative ideas of the campus community into tangible projects or startups.

Man at a podium introduces a guest speaker.

LIFE Series

Leadership & Innovation For Everyone

Workshops and talks by successful leaders and innovators are offered to teach practical skills. Discover your own aptitude and be ready to embrace challenges. 

A speaker gives a TEDxGrinnellCollege talk.

Storytelling Events

Workshops by The Moth; TEDxGrinnellCollege

Telling and listening to stories will always be important to humankind. In alternate years, the Wilson Center sponsors different types of storytelling experiences.

  • The Moth Radio Hour storytelling workshop and slam for students highlights personal stories.
  • TEDxGrinnellCollege is an independently organized event that brings people together to share a TED-like experience.

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