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The Scarlet & Black

Campaign for Grinnell launches

Justin Hayworth/Grinnell College
(Photo by Justin Hayworth/Grinnell College)

By Jonathan Gomez

Grinnell College recently kicked off ‘The Campaign for Grinnell College’ with an event at The Temple for Performing Arts in Des Moines, Iowa.

Grinnell trustee and Des Moines local, Connie Wimer, hosted the event, which introduced the first comprehensive campaign that Grinnell College has publicly launched since 1999. The philanthropic event catered to almost 125 Grinnell alumni, students, faculty, staff and friends of the College.

‘The Campaign for Grinnell’ officially encompasses all donations and gifts made to the College since July 1, 2013, but Grinnell trustees and alumni still have their eyes set on a generous $175 million.

According to Jaci Thiede, Vice President for Development and Alumni Relations (DAR), Community Counseling Services (CCS) made a recommendation in Spring 2015 that weighed out fundraising priorities and potential charitable interests from a target sample. “CCS recommended setting a working goal of $150 million, which reflected an ambitious, but attainable, fundraising goal and as well as the strategic and visionary aspirations of Grinnell College. Due to strong fundraising success over the last several years, the working goal was elevated to $175 million in October 2018,” wrote Thiede in an email to The S&B.

According to the “Together, we are Greater” campaign document, “Our current dependence on the endowment to fund operating costs and financial assistance for students demands that we take action today to meet our commitments for tomorrow. Simply put, to be in an equally strong position decades from now, we need to start working today.”

To protect Grinnell College’s idolized $2 billion endowment, the College wishes to reduce the 56 percent of the annual budgeted operating revenues that come from the endowment (reported in 2018).

Gabby Gordon ’22 explained what priorities she would like to see Grinnell consider when allocating this $175 million, “I think Grinnell should fund students to have internships, travel grants and other opportunities that are time and time again more feasible for students not from low-income backgrounds. … I hope the College doesn’t just see this as an opportunity to become less dependent on endowment spending. They should do something the student body actually wants, like divest from prison labor or stop tuition increases.”

Thiede explained that “the less we are dependent on the endowment the less we are subject to the risk of volatility in the markets and the more we can preserve the access and educational excellence we provide for generations of students to come.”

Following the opening event, Grinnell College hosted another campaign event in Washington D.C. at Union Market. In total, ‘The Campaign for Grinnell’ has eight more scheduled campaign events that will extend into September 2020 and host similar type celebrations of Grinnell College in cities across the United States and even internationally with a couple of events in Hong Kong and London.

Amari Brooks ’20 shared why she thinks it is a good idea that Grinnell explores alumni networks outside of the US as well as within. “There are a ton of alumni from other countries who love Grinnell just as much as we do, so of course it’s smart to ask them too. Especially if you want Grinnell’s name and brand to spread more globally.”

As of Oct. 31, 2019, the campaign has raised $164.5 million and the hope is to reach the rest of the $9.5 million by the end date of June 30, 2021.

(Photo by Justin Hayworth/Grinnell College)
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