Grinnell Education Partnership Recognized with President’s Engaged Campus Awards

April 27, 2020

Campus Compact Iowa has recognized the Grinnell Education Partnership with two President’s Engaged Campus Awards. The Office of Community Enhancement and Engagement has supported and witnessed the tremendous impact that the Grinnell Education Partnership has made on the community and the students it serves. In five short years, the Grinnell Education Partnership, a campus-community initiative, has connected volunteers and organizations to leverage existing resources in new ways, captured the community’s imagination, rallied volunteerism, fostered relationships and achieved measurable results in student success. 

Awardees were selected for their role as student leaders, civic leaders, and community-campus partnerships. Grinnell Education Partnership received the following awards: 

President’s Community Partner Award to AmeriCorps Host Sites 

This award is for a community-based individual or organization that has enhanced the quality of life in the community in meaningful and measurable ways and has engaged in the development of sustained, reciprocal partnerships with the college or university, thus enriching educational as well as community outcomes. 

The Grinnell Education Partnership brings together nonprofits, employers, the school district, and volunteers to improve opportunities for all children and families in Grinnell. The effort is supported by a team of AmeriCorps members embedded in community organizations, and the partnership’s host sites are the bedrock of the initiative. Embracing AmeriCorps teams, host sites have made significant contributions to members’ personal and professional development, student success, and the power of the network. 2019–20 host sites include Drake Community Library, Grinnell Community Early Learning Center, Grinnell College Museum of Art, Grinnell-Newburg School District, LINK Grinnell, Mid-Iowa Community Action and UnityPoint Health/Grinnell Regional Medical Center. 

The Community Collaboration Award 

This is awarded for a collaboration co-created with community organizations, leaders, and/or partners that is deep, reciprocal, and transformational. 

Through new collaborations, AmeriCorps members and their host sites have piloted or enhanced more than 15 community-based programs — such as creating a full range of summer enrichment opportunities for elementary-level students combating chronic absenteeism. With organizations and volunteers working together, the Grinnell Education Partnership has yielded significant results in a very short time for the community’s children and families including: 

  • Increases in third-grade reading scores (88% of third-graders tested as “proficient” in 2017–18 versus 79% in 2015–16).
  • Increases in the number of incoming kindergarteners arriving at school ready to learn (with 92% tested as “proficient” in 2017–18 versus 63% in 2015–16).
  • Decreases in the number of kindergarten through fourth-grade students experiencing “summer slide” (in 2019, 94% of the children who completed the SLICK summer program maintained or gained reading skills).
  • Decreases in chronic absences (decreasing from 15% to 6% among targeted kindergarten through fourth-grade students between 2017 and 2019).

Most notable is that the third-grade reading improvements were even more pronounced among low-income students, reflecting the community’s focus and in strong contrast to statewide trends. 

“These awards recognize amazing community leaders who are so committed to supporting students and families. It’s a privilege to work with such creative and dedicated partners,” said Melissa Strovers, Grinnell College director of collective impact. 

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