Grinnell College Announces Monica Sanders as the Inaugural Social Innovator in Residence  

March 12, 2024

Grinnell College is thrilled to announce Monica Sanders as the distinguished inaugural recipient of the Social Innovator in Residence Program. This initiative, deeply rooted in Grinnell’s rich legacy of social justice and engaged citizenship, represents a pivotal milestone in our ongoing commitment to fostering collaboration and driving meaningful societal change.  

“Monica Sanders’ work exemplifies a remarkable convergence of vision and action,” notes Grinnell College President Anne F. Harris. “Her dedication to addressing the digital divide and promoting climate resilience will further inform and deepen Grinnell’s values and practices of social responsibility and innovation.”  

Monica standing with another person with shovel and dirt below them

Sanders brings a wealth of experience and expertise as the founder of The Undivide Project, a nonprofit organization focused on the intersection of the climate crisis and digital divide, particularly concerning the impact on marginalized communities. Her personal journey, marked by determination following the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, underscores her unwavering commitment to equitable recovery and community empowerment.  

Through The Undivide Project, she has pioneered transformative solutions to bridge the digital gap and empower marginalized voices in underserved communities to design their own agency and future. From developing innovative community-led initiatives to advocating for transparency and equity in disaster response, Sanders’ work exemplifies the transformative power of grassroots activism and community-generated solutions.  

During her residency at Grinnell College, Sanders will engage with students, faculty, staff, and the wider community through an immersive array of collaborative initiatives. Her presence on campus promises to inspire a new generation of change-makers, fostering deep connections and promoting civic engagement at the intersection of social justice and environmental stewardship.  

Sanders says, “I am deeply grateful for the recognition as the Inaugural Winner of the Social Innovator in Residence Program at Grinnell College. This award not only highlights the commitment of the College to fostering interdisciplinary creativity, but also underscores the shared dedication to promoting civic engagement and amplifying the agency of historically marginalized communities. Further, I am humbled and honored by the history into which I will be stepping. I look forward to the transformative journey ahead, collaborating with students, faculty, and the wider community at Grinnell.” 

The selection of Sanders as the Inaugural Social Innovator in Residence reflects Grinnell College’s steadfast commitment to fostering interdisciplinary creativity, promoting civic engagement, and amplifying the agency of historically marginalized communities. The College eagerly anticipates the transformative impact of Sanders’ residency and the opportunities for co-learning and collaboration it will bring to our campus and beyond. This endeavor is designed to be mutually beneficial, fostering growth and innovation and ensuring that her time on campus will be rejuvenating and conducive to creative energy. 

Sanders’ residency at Grinnell College stands as a testament to our enduring commitment to advancing the common good through innovative social and environmental change-making and the promotion of inclusive excellence in all facets of our academic and community life. Sanders embodies the essence of a role model, igniting change that brings hope and serves as a beacon of inspiration for students. Her presence can offer not only guidance but also a compassionate listening ear, further fostering an environment where voices are heard and solutions are born. 

“As Ms. Sanders embarks on her journey to Grinnell College this fall, let us join together in celebration of her well-deserved honor and in anticipation of the transformative impact she will bring to our campus and beyond. Together, we can embrace and embody the spirit of co-creation and community engagement as we forge a path toward a more just and equitable future for all,” shares Harris.   

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