Tracy Huling ’77 and Brian Buckley ’14, Alvin Irby ’07, and Bryan Boyce ’08 are the winners of this year’s Joseph F. Wall ’41 Sesquicentennial Service Awards.
Huling and Buckley will use the award to support their organization, the Prison Public Memory Project (PPMP). In its pilot site in Hudson, N.Y., the program works with community members and collaborating scholars and artists to discover, preserve, interpret, and present the rich and complex history of the prison there, honor the memories of former prisoners and prison workers, and use the past to imagine a new future for the town when its historic prison closes. Funds from the award will be used to 1) fortify the program already in place in Hudson, developing a permanent site of prison memory there, organized and directed by Buckley and 2) support the PPMP’s founder, Huling, as she expands the reach of the organization to other rural prison communities in the United States.
Irby, who lives in New York City, will use his award to expand his Barbershop Books program, which places child-friendly reading spaces in barbershops. The program will improve black boys’ access to engaging books and increase the amount of time they read for fun. Creating reading spaces in 20 additional barbershops will enable Barbershop Books to reach 800 young male readers in two Brooklyn communities. By providing year-round access to culturally relevant, age-appropriate, gender-responsive children’s books in a traditionally male space, Irby hopes to help young black boys identify as readers.
Boyce will fund his project, Cow Tipping Press, a program that teaches creative writing for adults with developmental disabilities and shares their work with a broad audience. The funding will be used to train five additional instructors in strategies for teaching diverse learners, reaching 75 students and publishing their writing for hundreds of readers in the first year. By offering an imaginative outlet, Boyce will provide a platform for people with developmental disabilities to speak for themselves in a medium that is often used to speak about them.
The Wall Service Awards were established by a group of 205 donors during the College’s 1996 sesquicentennial celebration, honoring Grinnell’s long-standing commitment to social justice and public service. Wall was a professor of history at Grinnell who inspired the ideal of social responsibility in his students. The College gives awards of $25,000 each to alumni to carry out a service project that is of tangible benefit to others. Projects may be original or supplement existing programs; they may be local, regional, national, or international in scope; and may be carried out domestically or internationally. Since 1999, more than $1 million has been awarded to 44 alumni.
Applications for next year’s awards are due in June 2016.