Grinnell College Awards $100K Prize to Creators of Positive Social Change

September 21, 2016

Two Grinnell College Innovator for Social Justice Prizes of $100,000 each have been awarded to individuals who are improving the lives of immigrants in New York City and the lives of isolated populations in southern India.

The 2016 Grinnell Prize recipients are:

Each prizewinner saw a particular need, designed innovative and socially just solutions to address this need, and were able to make a tangible impact through their hard work and dedication.

The Grinnell Prize carries an award of $100,000. Half of each prize is awarded directly to the prizewinner or prizewinners, and the other $50,000 is presented to the prizewinners’ organization.

Luna Ranjit ’00, Adhikaar

Ranjit, who received her bachelor of arts in economics and global development studies, is the first Grinnell College graduate to win the Grinnell Prize. She recognized that there was a great need for leadership and human rights advocacy in the Nepali and immigrant communities in New York City.

In response, she founded Adhikaar in 2005 to promote leadership training and grass-roots human rights initiatives in these communities. Adhikaar has assisted thousands of individuals and families; trained hundreds of new leaders; and successfully changed policies and created new laws at local, state, national, and international levels, including the New York State Domestic Workers Bill of Rights and the International Domestic Workers’ Convention.

Diana Jue Rajasingh and Jackie Stenson, Essmart

Essmart’s co-founders, Rajasingh and Stenson, recognized the need for better last-mile distribution systems in India’s poorest communities. Essmart works directly with local street vendors in southern India who help meet the consumer needs of the majority of households in isolated areas.

Together with these vendors, Essmart helps to collect data on rural consumption patterns and needs. They then source requested technologies and goods from locally based companies that are able to provide sustainable, relevant, and permanently available products to those traditionally left out of the supply chain.

Grinnell Prize Week

The winners will receive their prizes and talk about their work during the awards ceremony at noon Tuesday, Oct. 4, in Joe Rosenfield ’25 Center, Room 101. The ceremony, which is free and open to the public, is part of Grinnell Prize Week (Oct. 3-6). Prizewinners will interact with Grinnell College students, faculty, and staff in classes, workshops, and informal conversations throughout the week.

Nominations Due Oct. 9 for 2017 Grinnell Prize

Grinnell College is accepting nominations for the 2017 Grinnell Prize, which honors individuals who demonstrate leadership in their fields and creativity, commitment, and extraordinary accomplishment in advancing positive social change.

The College seeks a global and diverse pool of nominees across a wide range of fields, including science, medicine, the environment, humanities, business, economics, education, law, public policy, social services, religion, and ethics, as well as projects that cross these boundaries.

Nominees may be U.S. citizens or nationals of other countries. Nominations for the 2017 awards must be made by third parties and are due on Oct. 9. You can read the nomination criteria, complete the nomination form, and see previous Grinnell Prize winners.

We use cookies to enable essential services and functionality on our site, enhance your user experience, provide better service through personalized content, collect data on how visitors interact with our site, and enable advertising services.

To accept the use of cookies and continue on to the site, click "I Agree." For more information about our use of cookies and how to opt out, please refer to our website privacy policy.