So, you want to make a difference in the world. You’ve come to the right place!
Do you want to volunteer in the community, apply for a service leadership work-study position, participate in civic dialogue, or to get involved in a social innovation challenge? Maybe you are interested in taking a community-based learning class or partnering with a local activist movement or advocacy organization? Whatever your civic interest, we are here to help you identify a personalized array of experiences that will equip you with the skills and insights necessary to explore the civic aspect of your life.
Volunteering in and around Grinnell
Volunteers are essential to our community, and the opportunities you will encounter while at Grinnell are endless. Whether you want to join an existing group of volunteers or venture out on your own, we have resources and advisers who can help.
Open to all students eligible to work on campus, Service Leadership Work-Study (SLWS) provides students with paid, community-driven service opportunities in local nonprofit and governmental organizations. These positions not only serve the community but also allow you to explore your civic interests.
Engaging in facilitated interactions, focused on dialogue and listening, different constituents come to appreciate the complexity and interdependency of the community in ways that break down stereotypes and divisions. Through civic dialogue, students can be meaningful democratic participants in the community, including helping to make it a more inclusive space for all of us.
Often solving surface-level problems or symptoms of larger issues is not enough. Instead we must also address the root causes and systems that undergird the issue. This is where systems-level analysis and change-making come into play. At Grinnell we think about system change both as a noun and a verb, a process and and outcome. And we offer ways for you to participate in both.
Social innovation occurs within the intersection of service, activism, and systems thinking. It not only meets immediate needs, but also actively advocates for short and long-term change while working to transform the intersectional systems that undergird and reinforce oppression.
The service and social innovation staff in the CLS have designed a tour for people who are interested in becoming active in the civic life of Grinnell and who want to learn more about becoming socially just collaborators in community action.
While many of our community partners are within walking distance of campus, others are located in our surrounding communities where transportation to and from a site is required. The CLS partners with Facilities Management to help accommodate these service transportation needs.
Whether you are planning or implementing a civic activity or are working to complete or sustain a project started in a class, the Center for Careers, Life, and Service has funding resources that may help. These grants are supported by the Thorisson Endowed Memorial Fund.
Critical Considerations for Students Holding F-1 Visas
F-1 students may typically participate in charitable or humanitarian service, like serving food at a soup kitchen, reading to children at a public library, or visiting the elderly. However, many other scenarios of off campus community engagement fall into a category that is off limits or requires practical training authorization. Before volunteering in the United States, please consult with a member of the CLS staff below or with someone from the Office of International Student Affairs (OISA).
Community engaged learning (C-EL) classes combine community engagement and civic activity with more traditional academic coursework. C-EL classes are available across the curriculum and are designed to deepen students’ understanding of course material through mutually beneficial, classroom/community collaborations.