Grinnell Prize Awarded to Founder of Essie Justice Group

The group mobilizes women with incarcerated loved ones to fight for criminal-justice reform

Gina Clayton is the recipient of the 2017 Grinnell College Innovator for Social Justice Prize. The attorney and activist founded and directs Essie Justice Group, a nonprofit, California-based organization that developed a nine-week Healing to Advocacy program. It’s built on the belief that those directly impacted by oppressive systems are the most effective change agents. 

Gina ClaytonApproximately 50 women have graduated and been invited into the “Essie sisterhood,” the organization’s mobilization base. This year, Essie is building a statewide network dedicated to bringing about decriminalization, reducing incarceration and ending state-sponsored violence against women and communities of color.

During Grinnell Prize Week, Oct. 2–6, 2017, students, faculty, staff, and local residents will be able to interact with Clayton, learning her best practices to design, organize, and launch innovative programs to address social justice issues. The award ceremony will be held Oct. 3 at the College.

The Grinnell Prize, which began in 2011, awards $100,000 — $50,000 to the prizewinner and $50,000 to the prizewinner’s organization — to recognize efforts in social justice. 

Nominations for the 2018 Grinnell Prize open July 1. To submit nominations, see


Share / Discuss