Grinnell Education Partnership
The GEP supports education priorities identified by the Grinnell community at large. These organizations include:
- Grinnell AmeriCorps Partnership
- Greater Poweshiek Community Foundation
- SLICK Summer Program
Using this framework, the goal is to provide and implement systems and strategies to:
- Bridge the skills gap among graduating students entering the workforce
- Make sure all students are reading at grade-level at or before the third grade
- Increase after school enrichment throughout the Grinnell Community
Through multiple action areas, Grinnell will have a central mechanism for identifying problems, organizing task forces, creating viable solutions, implementing solutions using a connected network of volunteers and generating awareness about the work that has happened and what is still needed.
School Readiness: To prepare Grinnell's children for Kindergarten, and instill a love of learning at home and school, in order to be successful students throughout their learning career.
Summer Learning: To plan and develop summer learning opportunities, such as summer school enrichment and summer learning programs, for Grinnell children in kindergarten through third grade.
Attendance: To eliminate chronic absence in Grinnell-Newburg Schools by identifying barriers to attendance and developing programs that can help remove those barriers.
Healthy Readers: To promote, create and implement programming that focuses on nutrition and wellness in an effort to arm parents, children and community with seeds of knowledge for lifelong healthy habits.
After-School Enrichment: To transform existing afterschool programs into extended learning environments, using grade-appropriate lesson plans based on the school curriculum.
Skills Gap Task Force: To nourish a sustainable model that identifies educational barriers and challenges, promotes community engagement and creates viable solutions to enhance overall student experiences.
Americorp Service Members (from left to right): Mariah Hirsch (Community Engagement), Nikki Laug (Healthy Readers), Ellyonna Glenn (After-School Enrichment), Carolyn Bittner (After-School Enrichment) and Samantha Ramsey (Skills Gap Coordinator Alum)
Health & Wellness
Healthy Readers Taskforce Coordinator: Nikki Laug
Nikki is responsible for promoting kids' health and wellness throughout the community, in order to provide a healthy foundation for young children. Nikki also coordinates Mileage Club.
Mileage Club provides an alternative recess activity in the spring of each school year. The program encourages healthy habits and goal setting as students walk or run laps at recess and track their total miles.
Each school has a designated path students follow to complete their laps. At the end of one lap, volunteers help students track their miles by adding a punch to their card. Students receive a special prize after completing a card (5 miles), starting with a foot token necklace. After completing two cards, or 10 miles, students can pick a book from a selection, funded with help from the GEP.
Community Engagement Coordinator: Mariah Hirsch
Mariah works with the Grinnell Community at large to build awareness of the community-based education initiatives.
One of the core areas of focus for the Community Engagement Coordinator is to help address the local child care gap, which includes a shortage of access to care for infants and toddlers as well as before/afterschool care for kids ages 5-12.
Mariah has also worked to build awareness around the Grinnell Education Partnership by creating a Facebook page, and book drive to collect books for the 2019 summer host sites. The goal is to have 100 new or gently used children to pre-teen books donated by May 31, 2019.
At the national level, the anchor investor for the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading is the Annie E. Casey Foundation. In Iowa, the campaign is supported by the work of the Iowa Council of Foundations. Locally, the Grinnell AmeriCorps Partnership is made possible by a 2015 AmeriCorps grant through the Iowa Commission on Volunteer Service, and two generous donations from the Claude W. and Dolly Ahrens Foundation and Grinnell Mutual Reinsurance Company. The AmeriCorps Grant is administered by Grinnell College and provides for a team of more than 30 AmeriCorps service members. The Greater Poweshiek Community Foundation houses a fund to support the effort and has successfully applied for additional grants to enrich the effort.