Grinnell College Community Mini-Grant Spotlight: Imagine Grinnell and Ahrens Park Foundation

October 03, 2022

Putting Down Roots — Imagine Grinnell 

Tree Planting

Volunteer-operated and dedicated to the reforestation of Grinnell, TreeCorps functions under the leadership of the Imagine Grinnell program. The corps offers volunteer opportunities for multiple generations of Grinnell residents, as well as educational and community opportunities to connect.  

The $4,300 grant given to Imagine Grinnell in fall 2022 via the Grinnell College Community Mini-Grant program supports the purchase of a watering trailer that also functions as storage for a variety of planting supplies. This makes it easier for the organization to implement several tree care strategies that benefit those with disabilities, no running water, and/or in a position of income inequality. Prior to this, TreeCorps had to use equipment loaned to them by the city of Grinnell, which limited the number of volunteers who could help and the times during the week that tree maintenance could occur. With hundreds of trees of many species planted and still more likely to take root in the future, it is even more critical to make the process of caring for them more effective, efficient, and accessible.  

Along with caring for the newly planted trees, the Marvin Avenue Giving Garden (a project directed by Todd Armstrong, Grinnell College professor and chair of Russian, Central European, and Eurasian studies) has put the new watering trailer to good use.  

“We set this watering trailer up to answer several needs,” said Tim Ellsworth of Imagine Grinnell. “For the past two years, our model for 1000Trees has been to raise money; identify possible planting locations; help with city permitting if needed; determine diverse, healthy species; and offer delivery and/or planting help. After the Oct. 21 Tree Event, we’ll have planted around $80,000 worth of new trees since our devastating derecho a few years back.” 

For more information on TreeCorps and Imagine Grinnell, visit: 

The Importance of Open Spaces – Ahrens Park Foundation 

Outdoor classroom drawings
Initial plans for the outdoor classroom and playscape site, in the broader context of Ahrens/Paschall Memorial Park, provided by the Ahrens Park Foundation and the Natural Learning Initiative.

Open spaces are vital to foster interconnectedness and cooperation. The Ahrens Park Foundation embodies this principle in its provision of recreational and athletic facilities for all inhabitants of Grinnell and the surrounding area. This mission is exemplified by the Ahrens/Paschall Memorial Park, which has many facilities open for public use. The park is already a boon to the community and its youth, and the Ahrens Park Foundation wants to make it even more so. With a $3,500 grant awarded in fall 2022 by the Grinnell College Community Mini-Grant Program, the foundation has been able to enter into an agreement with North Carolina State University’s Natural Learning Initiative to construct an outdoor learning space and playscape for the benefit of the Grinnell Early Learning Center and the youth of the wider community.  

“This project is an asset that benefits the youth, the community, and members at all economic levels, and it shines a light for other communities to follow,” said Chad Nath, president/CEO of the Ahrens Park Foundation 

This area, which will be to the west of the Ahrens Community Center, will use natural building materials to create a stimulating environment for kids. The foundation’s intent is to provide a space for the physical and mental enrichment of children, giving them space for exploration as well as structured activities in an outdoor environment. This outdoor classroom and play area have the potential to serve as a natural learning environment for Grinnell Early Learning Center’s students, providing them with the benefits that learning, inquiring, and investigating outside can give. The project is in its preliminary stages, but three outdoor classrooms are planned; more details will be available after community surveys and future progress has been made.  

For those interested in keeping an eye out for the other endeavors of the Ahrens Park Foundation or who want to see the community benefits for themselves, the foundation’s website, is a great resource.  

Applications Open for Fall 2022–2023 Mini-Grant Program 

Intended for small- to mid-sized projects that seek to benefit the population of Grinnell and bring its people together, the Grinnell College Community Mini-Grant Program provides funds necessary to spark change. Grants allow these projects to be innovative and ambitious in their pursuit of bettering the quality of life of all members of Grinnell’s citizens, current or potential. The grant provides an average of $1,000–$7,500 in funding, preferably for those projects that can:  

  • Demonstrate collaborative partnerships within the community  
  • Establish connections to the community of Grinnell 
  • Bring improvement to prior work already accomplished 
  • Demonstrate promise in making a meaningful impact on the Grinnell community  

Applications for the fall cycle of the 2022–23 Grinnell College Community Mini-Grant Program will be accepted until Monday, Oct. 31. Online application is the preferred method. Some exclusions apply. 

  • Cycle 1 Mini-Grant applications must be received by the Oct. 31 deadline to be considered, and the results will be announced on Friday, Dec. 9, 2022 
  • Cycle 2 Mini-Grant applications must be received by Friday, April 7, 2023, and the results will be announced on Friday, May 19, 2023  

Additionally, the College requires that grant recipients meet with staff in the Office of Community Partnerships, Planning, and Research to outline the progress of their project and, if requested, to present the results of their work on the Grinnell College campus to the review committee.  

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.