Grinnell College Announces Spring Mini Grant Award Winners for Community Impact Projects


One of the ways Grinnell College supports community projects within Grinnell is through the mini-grants program. Twice a year, the program supports impactful programs that are making a lasting difference in the Grinnell community. This year’s Spring recipients look to make a difference in the areas of food security, music and the arts, education, parks, and public events.

Monica Chavez-Silvia, vice president of Community Engagement and Strategic Planning in the Office of Community Partnerships, Planning, and Research, says, “The Grinnell College community mini-grant program is an excellent example of our College and community’s values of working together toward shared goals. Grinnell is a small town, and it’s important for us all to contribute. Thank you to the volunteer committee made up of faculty, staff, Grinnell College students, and community members, who did an outstanding job of bringing their respective insights and perspectives to the table to work through the applications and make recommendations.”

Donnette Ellis, Grinnell College’s community relations and grant coordinator, facilitates the grant review process. Of this year’s recipients, she adds, “On behalf of the community mini-grant review committee, we were pleased to see the variety of applications submitted this Spring. There are two pilot projects that we are excited to see develop, two educational projects that will build on what is already being done, and a project that will coincide with the Renfrow Hall dedication this Fall.”

2024 Mini-Grant Recipients


Grinnell Parks and Recreation Department — Grant funds will allow the department to purchase training and safety equipment to enhance staff training and public safety. The department will acquire a full-body adult submersible manikin and a new Automated External Defibrillator (AED) to be kept at the Grinnell Mutual Family Aquatic Center during the summer season and used at other department events in the off season.


Shelby Miller, recreation coordinator for the department, says “This equipment will improve our staff’s skills and training. In turn, this will provide us the information we need to make sure our lifeguard stations are placed in the correct spots to ensure the fastest recognition by our guards. These testing measures should result in a lower risk of fatalities to drowning, and the use of an AED can significantly increase a cardiac arrest victim’s chance of surviving.” Grant amount: $3,674


Drake Community Library — Connections: Combining History and Art to Explore Grinnell in the Early 20th Century is a collaboration between Drake Community Library and the Grinnell Area Arts Council (GAAC). The project will use historic photographs to explore life in Grinnell from 1890-1950. A mix of self-standing banners and foam mounted images will be exhibited in the GAAC Stewart Gallery during July 2024 and in future exhibitions, specifically the September 2024 dedication of Renfrow Hall.


Monique Shore ’90, technology coordinator for the Drake Community Library, says “The display of historic photographs will help people think about what it was like to live, work, and play during these years. This retrospective will also show how change is a constant in the life of any community. The way a space like Central Park or Broad Street looks is a never-ending evolution.” Grant amount: $3,000


Grinnell School of Music — The Grinnell School of Music is launching a 2-year pilot project working with the Brooklyn (NY) Music Factory on a set of programs for students ages 4-8, titled Mini Keys and Jam Band 101. The grant will enable the school to enhance its capacity to serve an age range that is underserved by current programs and provide age-appropriate fun programs to engage students and their families for immediate and long-term involvement.


Erin Bustin, executive director of The Grinnell School of Music, says “This project allows us to foster the ongoing music education of kids who are already excited about being part of our growing organization. These students and their families will benefit tremendously from a program that is customized to their current needs while also helping engage them in lifelong music-making.” Grant amount: $4,680


Mid-Iowa Community Action (MICA) — The MICA Cares Grocery Sponsor for Seniors program is a pilot program in Poweshiek County to help seniors with a year-long grocery sponsorship. Grant funding will allow for the creation of the program, as well as assessment and evaluation of effectiveness over a one-year period.


Resource Development and Communications Coordinator, Abra Dougherty, says “This Grocery Sponsor program is designed to target a population that has significant challenges meeting basic needs — Poweshiek County seniors. Elderly individuals who are on a fixed income, such as SSI, etc. are already struggling to stretch their dollars to meet their needs. Based on our work with food insecurity in Poweshiek, Story, and Hardin Counties, we are confident families will report lower food insecurity at the conclusion of this project. It is also our hope to continue to expand these sponsorships to include a wide range of individuals and families in need.” Grant amount: $7,200


Grinnell UCC Community Preschool — The grant will allow the Grinnell UCC Community Preschool to purchase the Bridges Math Curriculum for students. As this is the same curriculum used by the Grinnell School District, its use will help make the transition to Kindergarten smoother for students.


Molly Richmond, Board President of UCC Community Preschool, explains, “It is vitally important to us as a preschool to provide the same level of preparation for our students going into kindergarten as other preschools do in the Grinnell area. Bridges is just one way we can accomplish that goal, so we are extremely grateful to Grinnell College for assisting us in being able to make this happen for our students.” Grant amount: $1,200


Additional Donations and Sponsorships

In addition to the five community mini-grants awarded this Spring, Grinnell College also provided funding support for three different community initiatives through the micro-grant program, which provides smaller scale donations and sponsorships throughout the year.


Kites Over Grinnell is a free family event hosted in the fall by the Grinnell Rotary Club offering a free lunch, games, and prizes to participants who can watch at least 20-25 professional kite flyers and fly their own free kite. The micro-grant will help purchase 900 kites to be given away to elementary and middle school students for the event. Sponsorship amount: $1,350


The Poweshiek County Conservation Department will purchase hands-on educational materials to support and enhance some of its most popular program topics. The Department will acquire replica birds eggs, replica animal feet, and other supplies that promote hands-on learning for both youth and adults. Donationamount: $1,056


The Read 2 Lead Raising A Reader program aims to increase the education of parents around the frequency and consistency of positive parent-child interactions when reading together. Through book gifting and information sharing, the program helps to enhance and support social, emotional, and behavioral health of new parents in the community. The College’s sponsorship will assist the program in expanding to reach more participants. Sponsorship amount: $500


2024-25 Community Mini-Grant Applications

Grinnell College is now accepting applications for the fall cycle of community mini-grants. Grant applications are due by Friday, October 25, 2024, with awards announced on Friday, December 6, 2024. A volunteer committee of faculty, staff, Grinnell College students, and community members will review the applications. Preference is given to proposals that leverage collaborative partnerships within the community. Grants typically range from $1,000 to $7,500. For more information or to download an application, visit Mini-Grants or contact the Office of Community Partnerships, Planning, and Research at 641-269-3900. If interested in serving on the review committee, please contact Donnette Ellis at 641-269-3900.

About Grinnell College Mini-Grants

Since 2002, the Grinnell College mini-grants program has supported community organizations with grants ranging from $1,000 to $7,500, for local initiatives to enhance the quality of life in our community by addressing issues of importance to the campus and community at large. Grants are awarded to organizations working to enhance the social and economic vitality of our community, including cultural, recreational, and educational projects; those addressing human needs; and those enhancing the safety and beauty of our surroundings. Recognizing that local organizations are critical to identify and develop the community’s quality-of-life initiatives, the program also supports efforts that strengthen organizational capacity

About Grinnell College Donations and Sponsorships

Grinnell College also supports local nonprofit organizations through donations and sponsorships on a rolling basis throughout the year. This support is typically for requests under $1,000.