Social Innovation

SPARK Community-Based Social Innovation Challenge

The SPARK Community-Based Social Innovation Challenge offers you, a Grinnell College Student, an opportunity to become a social innovator. Local organizations identify challenges to which they are seeking both short-term and long-term, systemic solutions. Over the course of six months you, your community partner, and a team of your peers consult together, conduct relevant research, utilize your collective knowledge and connections, and create solutions that are innovative, practical, well-designed, and beneficial to the community.

In early April, a SPARK Pitch Contest is held where you and your community partner are given 5-7 minutes to explain your challenge and pitch your solutions to a team of community judges. The judges offer constructive feedback and determine which solution will receive up to $15,000 of implementation funding from the Wilson Center for Innovation and Leadership. With these funds and through the support of the Center for Careers, Life, and Service’s Service Learning Work-Study Program, challenge winners and their community partners implement their solutions over the course of the following year.

Many of the teams’ solutions, even those that have not won the pitch contest, have been granted local financial support and moved on to implementation.

Joseph F. Wall ‘41 Alumni Service Award

Are you a Grinnell College alum who is interested in doing innovative service or social justice work? Each year, the College awards up to two alumni a prize of $30,000 to jump-start or complete a project that shows creativity and commitment to effecting positive social change. Projects may be original or supplement existing programs, address issues specific to local communities or be of wider global concern, and be carried out domestically or internationally.

Grinnell College Innovator in Social Justice Prize

Do you know someone who is an exceptional social innovator? Nominate them for the Grinnell Prize! Each year Grinnell College awards $100,000 to a social innovator who is:

  • A change-maker working on the cutting edge of social innovation
  • A leader collaborating and co-creating solutions to pressing social justice issues
  • A visionary tackling immediate challenges while also addressing related systemic issues
  • A mentor inspiring the next generation of social innovators

Winners, selected from a pool of nominees from around the world, are invited to become part of the Grinnell College service and social innovation network. They may lead workshops, teach classes, offer internships and externships, visit classes, and serve as mentors for students and alumni.

Additional information about Social Innovation is available on GrinnellShare (secure login required).

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