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Frequently Asked Questions by Prospective Bonner Leader Program Schools

Page history last edited by Robert Hackett 4 years, 8 months ago





Updated January, 2016


Is there funding available for schools interested in starting a Bonner Leader Program?


Unfortunately, there is no new funding available for schools starting a Bonner Leader Program. The Bonner Foundation has awarded $94 million in endowment funding to make the Bonner Program permanent at 26 institutions, providing annual support for 1,600 students engaged in this four-year service-based scholarship program.  In turn, the Foundation shrunk to a size that allows it’s staff to provide on-going support to all campuses participating in the program, regardless of their endowment status.  There are 40+ institutions with Bonner Leader Programs that are self-funded.


What is the difference between the Bonner Scholar and Bonner Leader Programs?


The only difference between the Bonner Scholar and Bonner Leader Program is the source of funding for the students and the related requirements for financial aid packaging.


The 21 Bonner Scholar Programs have endowments that provide $5,000 annually in scholarship support for the 40-100 students who are active in the program each year.  Half of this annual scholarship ($2,500) meets the work requirement in the Bonner Scholar’s financial aid package, allowing the student to work 10 hours per week during the school year in community service and training.  The other half of the scholarship provides support for two summer service internships and various training and service activities for the Bonner Scholars.  Institutions with Bonner Scholar Programs are required to package their Bonner Scholars to meet full documented need (i.e., direct and direct costs of education) while capping loans at the Stafford Loan level.


The 40+ Bonner Leader Programs are required to provide a stipend to their Bonner Leader students for their 10 hour per week service (and training) commitment at an hourly rate that is equivalent to their institution’s Federal Work-Study Program (FWS).  These funds are often from the institution’s annual Federal Work-Study grant, which helps meet the Federal requirement to allocate a minimum of 7% the annual FWS grant to community service positions.  While not required to do so, many schools with Bonner Leader Program choose to offer their Bonner Leaders additional scholarship support from institutional funds.  Some have established named service-based scholarships  the students who participate in their Bonner Leader Programs.


If there is no funding from the Bonner Foundation, what is the benefit of starting a Bonner Leader Program and joining the national Bonner network?


The Bonner Program is the premier service-based scholarship program in the country.  It is also the largest.  With a 25 year history and a network of more than 60 institutions to draw upon, there is a wealth of experience and expertise to help any institution develop their own cohort of students whose financial aid packages afford them the opportunity to not only transform themselves but also their colleges and communities where they serve.  


The four-year developmental model upon which the Bonner Program is based can be replicated by any institution, regardless of whether they join the national Bonner network.  In fact, one important goal of the Bonner Foundation is to provide a model and resources for other schools to develop service-based scholarship programs.  Towards this end, we make all of the how-to guides and other resources for schools interested in this approach available on our website.


For those institutions that are able to meet the Bonner Program requirements, there are benefits for students, staff, and faculty in joining a network of other institutions working towards the Bonner Program's transformation goals for campuses and communities.  These goals go beyond providing a cohort of students "an access to education and opportunity to serve" through their participation in the Bonner Program.  The Bonner Foundation and the schools in the national Bonner network have developed a community of practitioners and students who seek to develop the best practices in community-campus partnerships. 



What are the core values that underly the Bonner Program?


The Bonner Program's work centers around six common commitments that define and focus the program's community engagement and student development goals.  These were developed in partnership with the students, faculty, and staff who lead the Bonner Program.



What is required of schools that operate a Bonner Leader Program?


There are three basic requirements for schools that participate in the Bonner Leader Program:


  • Schools must grow to a minimum of 20 Bonner Leaders (for an average of five per class) who participate in a four-year program model and receive a stipend equivalent to Federal Work-Study that affords them the opportunity to engage in 10 hours of community service per week during the school year.  The essence of the Bonner Program is to provide “an access to education and an opportunity to serve.


  • These students must be called Bonner Leaders.  We encourage schools to seek support for a named service-based scholarship for these students (with the Bonner name receiving “second billing”).


  • Schools must send staff and students to our series of annual conferences.  Schools are invoiced for the lodging and meals expenses for these meeting, which in the last year ranged from $50 for our Fall Bonner Student Congress meeting up to $360 for four day, three night Fall Directors Meeting.


What does the Bonner Leader Program cost an institution?


There are no membership dues to become part of the Bonner Leader Program; the costs are all related to operating a Bonner Leader Program and being an active participant in the national Bonner network.  Therefore, the primary costs are as follows:


  • providing a cohort of at least 20 Bonner Leaders with a stipend equivalent to Federal Work-Study at your institution that can support them to serve 10 hours per week in the community;


  • travel funds to ensure staff and student participation in the annual Bonner conferences;


  • staff who can recruit, train, and support students in your Bonner Leader Program; and,


  • programming budget for transportation, training, and other operational needs of your program.


What steps do we need to take to start our Bonner Leader Program


The first step in starting your Bonner Leader Program is to have a conversation with the Bonner Foundation.  The goal of this conversation is to understand the fit between the institution and the Foundation’s mission and vision, and the Bonner Leader Program’s requirements.  


The next step is for the institution to determine if it is able and willing to meet the requirements for operating a Bonner Leader Program and joining the Bonner network.  


With advice from the Bonner Foundation staff, institutions will then decide which staff member(s) will attend the orientation the Bonner Foundation hosts in late July each year for all new and prospective staff.  This three day meeting provides an intensive overview of all aspects of the Bonner Program’s vision, history, nuts and bolts operations, and available resources.  

During the period prior to selecting your first class of incoming first year Bonner Leaders, we encourage your staff to recruit two or three current sophomore or junior students to join the staff team to help with the initial organizing steps.  These additional steps include:


  • coordinating with the Admissions and Financial Aid Offices on recruiting and packaging your founding class of Bonner Leaders;


  • developing an orientation and weekly training calendar for your Bonner Leaders; and,


  • meeting with a core group of community partners where you Bonner Leaders will serve in their first year.


The Bonner Foundation staff will provide guidance on each of these organizing steps and may be able to visit your campus to meet directly with the various offices and individuals that will be involved in starting your Bonner Leader Program.


What on-going support does the Bonner Foundation provide to Bonner Leader Programs?


The Bonner Foundation supports the national network of Bonner Programs through a variety of on-going activities:


  • Meetings:  we have an established series of annual gatherings which form the backbone of our campus support.  In the Fall, we gather of a representative group of Bonner students one weekend and a week later we bring together the Bonner directors and coordinators.  Six months later, in early June, we hold our Summer Leadership Institute which combines these groups together.  We also hold an orientation for new Bonner staff each summer.


  • Campus Visits:  Foundation staff visit each school at least once every 18 months or so.  On these visits we meet with senior administrators, faculty, Bonner staff and students, as well as community partners, though the agenda for each visit varies depending on the need on the respective campus.


  • Training Resources:  under the direction of Ariane Hoy, our Senior Program Officer, over the years we have compiled an extensive range of resources for training, educating, and networking our schools.


  • Communication:  in addition to weekly updates emailed to Bonner directors and coordinators, we have an active website, social media presence, and regular phone contact with all our schools.


  • National Networking:  the Foundation all serves as a hub for networking not only among participating schools, but also with national and international organizations that seek a partnership with schools as service or summer internships sites, as recruiters of Bonner graduates, or recruiters of potential Bonner Scholars and Leaders.


What other ways does the Bonner Foundation support a participating institution's civic and community engagement?


With all of our work, we make a concerted effort to integrate our program development around the reinforcing goals for student development, community partnerships, and campus infrastructure.  You'll see this in all of the Bonner Program resources.  



For instance, we work with schools to link student leadership roles with their personal development through training and reflection, the kinds of developmentally appropriate and challenging service placements and projects, and the way the program and campus-wide centers are managed.


Towards these ends, we have initiatives related to a variety of topics, including:

  • high impact practices
  • community and civic engagement pathways, including capstone or "signature work"
  • community-based research, including policy research
  • building campus-wide centers for civic and community engagement
  • partnerships with national and international groups as service placements and/or future employers


Back to Bonner Leader Program Start-Up Guide

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