Innovators in Social Justice to Receive 2015 Grinnell Prize

Winners support children’s literature in Africa, train bilingual women for medical interpreting

This year’s winners of the Grinnell College Innovator for Social Justice Prize are working creatively to diminish the inequities facing underrepresented populations. The winners are:

  • —Deborah Ahenkorah, founder of Golden Baobab, an organization that supports the creation and distribution of culturally relevant literature by African writers and illustrators for African children. Through awards with cash prizes, workshops, and an independent publishing company, Golden Baobab seeks to remedy the underrepresentation of relatable African perspectives in children’s literature.
  • Maria Vertkin, founder of the organization Found in Translation, a program that trains multilingual, low-income and homeless women for jobs in medical interpreting. This program aims not only to provide these women with the means to obtain economic security, but also equips them to address the ethnic, racial, and linguistic disparities in the health care industry.

As the largest prize for social justice awarded by any college, the $100,000 Grinnell Prize is awarded each year to leaders who create sustainable innovations in social justice. 

“Over the past five years since its establishment, the prize has grown increasingly integrated into campus programming,” says Saunia Powell ’02, coordinator of the Grinnell Prize. “Past prizewinners have formed lasting partnerships with faculty, students, and alumni through short courses, workshops, student research, internships, and fellowships.”

The 2015 Grinnell Prize medals will be presented at the Grinnell Prize award ceremony and prizewinner talks on Tuesday, Oct. 27, at 4 p.m. in Herrick Chapel. The deadline for submission of 2016 Grinnell Prize nominees is Nov. 9, 2015.

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