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Dear Concerned Alumni (#976)

Topics/tags: Grinnell, things I was writing anyway

Dear Concerned Alumni,

Congratulations! As you can tell from the latest Honor Roll of Giving, the College is no longer receiving donations from the Brownell family. It appears that your efforts have had the intended impact.

As you know, I do not agree with your assessment of the Brownell family. Nonetheless, I do understand your desire for Grinnell to limit donations from those who do not subscribe to Grinnell’s values; there are many whose donations I would protest.

But that’s not the point of this note. Rather, I’d like to write about Project Ignite. As I expect you know, since it was one of the criticisms raised, the Brownell’s donation supported Project Ignite, an outreach program intended to give educational enrichment to area children. I’ve heard that enrichment programs, or the lack thereof, are one of the things that are contributing to the increased educational divide in our country (and, therefore, to the increased financial divide). Parents with a certain amount of wealth, or in certain areas, have access to enrichment programs. Others do not. I know from my own experience that poor and middle-class families in the middle of Iowa do not have easy access. I’m proud that President Kington and the College found a way to provide enrichment to our community and I’m proud of the various outreach and enrichment activities the College continues to support and provide.

The Grinnell College students I know who have participated in Project Ignite have told me that they found it valuable. Not only did they have the opportunity to serve our community in an important way, but they also had the joy of interacting with children and, in many cases, they learned something in developing activities for those children.

As I understand it, with the loss of the Brownells’ donations, the College has no direct funding for Project Ignite. In my informal conversations with folks in our Office of Community Enhancement, I’ve learned that we have found temporary ways to continue to fund the program. However, I must assume that that money comes from somewhere else, presumably from other community outreach and community enhancement programs.

Hence, I have a request for you. Since the College no longer receives Brownell money to support Project Ignite, would you please donate to fund the program. I know that children and parents in our community would very much appreciate it.

With thanks for your assistance in this important matter,

Samuel A. Rebelsky

Postscript: You might be interested to read an article on tainted donations from a recent issue of The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Version 1.0 of 2020-01-04.