Social Responsibility and Service

Grinnellians are committed to social responsibility, service, and the common good. This legacy of social justice and activism dates back more than 170 years, and with you involved, we can keep it going strong. Here, you’re surrounded by a community that embraces you for who you are: a passionate and responsible citizen, concerned for the well-being of our world. At Grinnell, you’ll be inspired to always step forward and be a part of the solution.


It’s part of who we are, from the very beginning.

Grinnell was founded by abolitionists, and that ethos has driven our college from the ever since. We’ve long been recognized as one of the top volunteer producers for the Peace Corps.  And we spawned the Social Gospel movement, trained the architects of FDR’s New Deal, educated the inventor of the microchip, and graduated critics, comedians and world leaders who are shaping society.

In this same spirit, our Innovator for Social Justice Prize honors individuals who have demonstrated leadership in their fields and who have shown creativity, dedication, and efforts toward effecting positive social change.

Grinnellians know our work is never done. 

In and out of the classroom, you’ll be challenged to consider complex issues and expand your awareness. Through these opportunities, you’ll develop the tools to recognize and combat injustice wherever you see it. 

Grinnellians volunteer with over 80 different community partners throughout Central Iowa. Through the Service Learning Work-Study Program, you might work for local nonprofit organizations, taking pride in helping the communities that surround our campus. In the College’s annual SPARK Innovation Challenge, you can compete in teams with community partners for funding to address local issues. You can also participate in internships, short courses, and workshops with Grinnell Prize Winners, and lead alternative break service projects. And through the Liberal Arts in Prison Program, you have the opportunity to tutor inmates at a nearby correctional facility.

More examples of Grinnellians and our service:

  • In the Team Software Development for Community Organizations class (CSC 322), led by Sam Rebelsky, professor of computer science, students develop software packages for local nonprofits over the course of multiple semesters.
  • The Grinnell Caucus Project class (SST 295) was designed by Barb Trish, professor of political science. Students engaged in an intensive examination of the Iowa caucuses and the campaigns leading up to them. Students attended candidate events and made site visits to campaign headquarters, party headquarters, media outlets, paid vendors, consultants, and state ethics and campaign finance boards.
  • At the Blank Park Zoo, volunteers and service-learning work-study students work with zookeepers to create innovative enrichment items for the animal enclosures.
  • Grinnell Prize Week offers various avenues for students, faculty, staff, and alumni to learn from social innovators from around the world.

Related Links

Continue to explore more of the Grinnell experience.

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Our Mission and Values


You’ll find a different way of seeing and being at Grinnell. And it’s all driven by a shared mission and set of values. 

Student Quote

Students here are open-minded, non-judgmental, socially responsible, and globally aware. Grinnell’s inclusive community is not just some marketing gimmick or admissions thing. It’s real. When they say that everyone is welcome here, literally everyone is welcome.

Lana Katai '21