This year, Grinnell College alumni have received the Joseph F. Wall '41 Sesquicentennial Service Award to support their work in three nonprofit organizations. Each organization will receive $25,000.
The 2015 Wall Service Alumni Award winners are:
Tracy Huling, a 1977 graduate, and Brian Buckley, a 2014 graduate, will use the Wall Award to support the Prison Public Memory Project. The project involves community members, scholars and artists who explore, preserve, interpret and present the complex and rich history of the correctional facility in Hudson, New York, before it closes in the next few years. The organization has started a public dialogue about the significance of the prison in the town's history, interviewing prison "alumni," workers and community members to honor the past while imagining the future after the historic prison is closed. The project includes exploring the relationship that prison sites have with their local communities both in terms of economic and cultural impact. Huling and Buckley will use the award to create a permanent site of prison memory in Hudson and expand their organization to other rural prison communities.
Alvin Irby, a 2007 graduate, will invest the Wall Award in the expansion of his Barbershop Books program to 20 additional barbershops in Brooklyn, New York. Barbershop Books places child-friendly reading spaces in barbershops, aiming to improve young boys' access to engaging books and increase the amount of time they read for fun. By placing age-appropriate and gender-responsive books in traditionally male-spaces, Barbershop Books hopes to increase readership among young black boys and inspire them to identify as readers. This award will enable the program to expand into two additional neighborhoods in Brooklyn and create 20 new reading spaces that will provide culturally relevant and likable books for 800 more young readers.
Bryan Boyce, a 2008 graduate, will use the Wall Award to fund his project Cow Tipping Press, a program in Minneapolis that teaches creative writing to adults with developmental disabilities and shares their work with a broad audience. Cow Tipping Press creates a space for people with developmental disabilities to speak for themselves in a medium that is often used to speak for and about them. With the Wall award, the program can train five additional instructors in strategies for teaching diverse learners, reaching 75 students and publishing their writing for hundreds of readers in the first year.
About the Wall Alumni Service Awards
The Wall Alumni Service Awards were established during Grinnell College's sesquicentennial celebration in 1996 to honor the college's long commitment to social responsibility and public service. The awards are named in honor of the late Joe Wall, a professor of history at Grinnell who inspired an ideal of social responsibility in his Grinnell students. The Wall Awards provide financial support for Grinnell graduates to engage in service projects, programs and organizations that are dedicated to improving the lives of others. Projects may be original or supplement existing projects or programs; they may be local, regional, national or international in scope; and may be carried out domestically or internationally. Since the inception of the Wall awards in 1996, more than $850,000 has been distributed to the service projects of more than 36 Grinnellians.
About Grinnell College
Since its founding in 1846, Grinnell has become one of the nation's premier liberal arts colleges, enrolling 1,600 students from all 50 states and from as many international countries. Grinnell's rigorous academic program emphasizes excellence in education for students in the liberal arts; the college offers the B.A. degree in a range of departments across the humanities, arts and sciences. Grinnell has a strong tradition of social responsibility and action, and self-governance and personal responsibility are key components of campus life. More information about Grinnell College is available at www.grinnell.edu.