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Lynchburg Annual Report

Page history last edited by Lisa Whitaker 11 years, 11 months ago

 

Annual Report – Programmatic Section

 

Implementation of Student Development: 


The role of trainings, courses, & meetings

 

We share the developmental model with students in Orientation and also work from a continuum of experiential learning that begins with volunteering (with levels of experience within volunteering), then to common forms of service-learning, and then to social entrepreneurship and community-based research. While students may be involved simultaneously in several levels on the continuum, it illustrates a developmental pathway relating their service and Bonner work to their academics.   

 

Our first year students are in exploratory mode. Although they're required to find a primary site each semester during their first year, they're also encouraged to go with second-year Bonners to visit other service sites and experience working with various populations. We share with students the belief that service can be most transformative -- leading to the growth of new perspectives and understandings -- when we work alongside others in the community, especially those that we experience as being very different from us. In the spring semester of the first year in the program, Bonners take an introductory course in social entrepreneurship. The course is also a requirement for the minor in civic engagement. Eight students are currently enrolled in the minor, three of which are current or past Bonners, and two of whom are incoming Bonners.    

All Bonners are also required to attend group service events, such as Gleaning or Habitat projects or one-time service projects needed in the community at our primary partner sites. Weekly meeting activities are created by students and staff to explore social and policy issues, and provide training in skills development. Separate meetings for first and second year students are scheduled periodically throughout the year so trainings and activities can be tailored to meet the developmental needs of each group. For example, first year students often need to spend more time on gaining time management skills and learning about "ways of being" in the community, while second year students may want to learn more about CBR methods, advocacy techniques, and how to help create leadership in others. We're still getting our feet wet at doing this well, making sure to integrate certain topics into the mix during the year while also giving students as much flexibility as they need to take ownership.

The six common commitments are often our guideposts for training and enrichment; we work to incorporate each of them intentionally throughout the year, and our annual trip to Washington, DC each January is usually focused specifically on one or more of the commitments. Students and staff  also incorporate movies, YouTube videos, music, articles, poetry, and guest speakers to bring various issues into focus.

Second year students take on a greater role of leadership in the program (such as serving on the leadership team or becoming senior interns), and also in the college and greater communities by supervising volunteers, leading projects and intiatives, and participating in CBR.  

First Year Trip

 

As done every year, during the end of our winter break the majority of our Bonner Leaders (first years are required, second years are recommended) to attend our annual urban Pilgrimage to Washington, D.C.. Since we are a rural school, this is crucial. This year our students explored different aspects of training and enrichment and service. Our students have the opportunity to explore and participate in a true community building event. Our senior intern helped to orchestrate events such as a meeting with representatives from the Hunger and Homeless Coalition, tour of Anacostia River program, and service at the Capital Area Food Bank. The trip was filled with reflection and discussion. We even were graced with a visit from our fearless leader, Wayne.

Second Year Exchange

 

The second year exchange aka service exchange as we have deemed it was a huge success this year. Lynchburg College hosted the exchange at Lynchburg Grows, an urban farm and greenhouse. Lynchburg College was joined by over 60 Bonner students whom represented: University of Richmond, Ferrum College, and Washington and Lee University. While all students volunteered from freshly accepted Bonners to nearly graduating seniors, student leaders were identified from our first year and third year programs. These students facilitated different aspects of the event from planning ice-breakers to reflections on urban farming, sustainable agriculture and purchasing locally grown produce. Other topics included how these farms relate to issues of health, environment and national security.

 

Third Year (and beyond) Leadership Roles

 

In addition to our leadership team, this year we had two wonderful senior interns. One student returned as a third year student after completing her Bonner requirements while the other was in her second year of the program. Both chose different emphases throughout the year, one ran more meetings and facilitated leadership teams and service while the other focused more on trips and BWBRS.

 

Last year, a growing number of Bonners participated in a variety of community-based research projects, mostly as volunteers without academic credit. CBR offers another developmental level of interaction and leadership in the community, as do social entrepreneurship proejcts and internships. The funds we have through the Princeton Community Based Learning Initiative grant have been very helpful for building this initiative on our campus.    

 

Since our program recruits rising sophomores and juniors, students are in the program for two, and in some cases, three years. Over the past two years, most of the students who entered the program as sophomores remained connected during their senior year, either as senior interns (we usually have two) or working on community-based research projects, or simply as presenters in an "elder Bonner" role during meetings and other events. Many stayed connected to their sites and continued to serve. This past May, though, almost all of our graduating Bonners were also seniors (most of the students in the group -- the Bonner III's -- entered the program as juniors) and were graduating from the college.What was so remarkable this summer then, was that several graduating Bonners have stayed connected in some way even after graduation. As mentioned earlier, Bonner and LC alum Wes Schmidt is continuing his CBR project at Lynchburg Grows, and may stay in the area for some time (we hope) although Lynchburg isn't his home area. Becky Eades, our past senior intern, is taking leadership in the Lynchburg community by working with the Virginia Organizing Project, canvassing neighborhoods and helping get people engaged in social justice and policy issues.    

 

 

Senior Capstone & Presentation of Learning

 

At our Bonner Graduation which is part of the official graduation activities, each graduating Bonner is required to present their Presentation of Learning to the entire group which consisted of our President, fellow Bonners and staff, parents and other family members, community partners,  and other invited administrators and faculty. The list of this year’s students and presentation titles is as below:

Tyler Curtis- “My Bonner Experience: Exploration through Service”

Danielle Davis- “The Giving Tree”

Erin Gallant- “ Leading Through Volunteering”

Ramon Goings- “It’s Not All Child’s Play”

Katie Goode- “Through the Eyes of a Bonner”

Rena Michie- “With Others, For Others: The Bonner Experience”

Tanha Patel- “It Doesn’t End Here”

Wes Schmidt- “From Dung to Dirt”

Steve Smith- “Steve Loves the Kids”

 

Implementation of Community Partnerships: 


 

Orienting and managing community partnerships (orientation, site visits, meetings, strategic planning)

 

In past years, orienting community partners was done informally at each individual site. This Fall we'll be hosting our first group orientation for our community partners. Goals for the event are outlined in our Section II letter to the Foundation. We're very hopeful about the meeting/training, and also continue to look forward to meeting with partners and students on site.

 

Our goal continues to be to visit each student's primary site each semester. Some sites get visited with a lot more frequency because of additional involvement with them (CBR, board participation and so forth). This summer, program staff discussed the variety of sites and the nature and quality/level of the partnerships with each. Some are best suited for more introductory volunteer experiences for newer students or group service events on weekends. Others are more advanced partnerships where students, staff, and faculty have been working to support the organization's mission in a multi-pronged way. We are approaching our partnerships much more intentionally in terms of student development opportunities, and will be working with partners to create developmentally-incremental job descriptions and to more effectively utilize CLAs as tools for both the student and the partner.   

 

Partners as co-educators and other unique initiatives (including new academic linkages)

 

Last year, partners helped serve as co-eduators about environmental issues during Year if the Environment, and in the coming year we'll be inviting them to share their experience and perspectives on civic engagement during Year of the Citizen. Community partners have always participated in the course on social entrepreneurship as guest speakers, and also visit with the students during Bonner meetings periodically. During our partner orientation this fall, one of our goals is to invite our partners to discuss what they think students should be learning with regard to community work, skill development, and specific issues, and help us create and deliver these opportunities for learning and action.

 

In addition, we'll also be offering some introductory training and resource materials to our partners about CBR, policy briefs, and grantwriting, to lay some groundwork for generating new collaborative projects with students, faculty, and staff in these areas.   

 

We work especially closely with community partners on community-based research initiatives.  Bonner students worked with community partners, faculty, and staff this year on the following projects:   

 

Researching the resources in Central Virginia for seniors and their caregivers

Product: A “Seniors Resource Directory”, to be available both in print and online for seniors and their families, as well as for organizations providing referrals 

Partners: The Beard Center on Aging, two Bonner Leaders (LaToya Scott & Katie Goode), & multiple city and county nonprofit organizations serving seniors

 

 

A needs assessment for victims of sexual assault and their families

       Product: A final report outlining the services this population reports that it needs more of, or better access to. The study can be used for program improvement, community education, fundraising and grant-related efforts and reporting.

 Partners: The Sexual Assault Response Program, the Center for Community Development & Social Justice (Whitaker), and a Bonner Leader who is a SARP volunteer (Laura Davis)

 

 

An historical analysis of the therapeutic interventions being used at a local transitional living program for homeless men in recovery from substance use disorders.

Product: A final report on case files examined before and during the introduction of new therapies, containing an analysis of the therapeutic interventions and modalities used and their effectiveness, with recommendations for best practices  

Partners: The Gateway, a faculty member (Dr. Liz Farnsworth), two Bonner Leaders (Danielle Davis & Rena Michie), CCDSJ staff (Whitaker). This project is building on a Phase I CBR project completed last semester with The Gateway and a sociology class, which created an historical client database, mostly demographic and quantitative. The current study is primarily qualitative.)  

 

 

A video project with youth at the Boys & Girls Club examining their community

Product: A DVD for the youth and the Boys & Girls Club to share with the community for educational, and perhaps, advocacy purposes

Partners: The Lynchburg Boys & Girls Club, the youth it serves, and Bonner Leaders students Tyler Curtis, Ramon Goings, & Steve Smith)

 

 

Mapping Mental Health Services in Central Virginia

Product: Maps identifying various categories of mental health services (public, private, for children, for adults, specialty counseling services, etc.) available both in print format and online. G.I.S.(global information systems) technology will be used and the databases created for the maps will later serve as starting points for other data collection related to mental health services in the region.

Partners: The Mental Health Consortium of Central Virginia, S.W. Mapping, and the Center for Community Development & Social Justice. (The CCDSJ has brokered two previous CBR project partnerships with the MHCCV and sociology courses.) 

 

 

Lynchburg City Homeless Census & Needs Survey

Product: A study reporting on an annual point-in-time survey, including a new street count, and also including the results of a new interviewing process (the interview format was itself a product of the project) with people who are homeless in the city of Lynchburg.

Partners: The Homeless and Housing Coalition of Central Virginia, faculty members at Lynchburg College (Dr. Gabe Santos) and Randolph College, Randolph students and LC Bonner Leaders students & staff (Danielle Davis, Erin Gallant, Rena Michie, Tiffany Nious, & Lisa Whitaker)

 

 

Developing an Aquaponics  Program

Product: Compiling information about best practices in aquaponics programs and testing the feasibility of various strategies for how these can be implemented at a local organic farm and greenhouse complex.

Partners: Lynchburg Grows, and a Bonner student CBR researcher, Wes Schmidt, with guidance from LC environmental studies professors, Tom Shahady and Jamey Pavey. 

   

     

         

Integration of site-based or issue-oriented teams

 

We are beginning to experiment more intentionally with these concepts. To some extent, it is happening organically as individual partnerships develop relative to the Bonner program. For example, our strong partnership with Lynchburg Grows lends itself to these models, and our developing partnerships with Boys and Girls Club and Elizabeth's Early Learning Center led last year to groups of students working at these sites on special projects and initiatives (developing activities around appreciating diversity at EELC, and working on program evaluation at B&G Club). Some hesitancy to assigning students to sites or limiting their choices to three or four sites remains for us. New partnerships are developing with organizations that students themselves were determined to work for even though they were not current partners of the CCDSJ -- for example, Astride with Pride, a therapeutic horseback-riding program for people with intellectual and physical disabilties, and the Sexual Assault Response Program. Our students and staff value the freedom of choice aspect of our program and also the serendipitous relationships that sometimes develop from this, but we also wholeheartedly acknowledge the value of deepened partnerships and issue-focus to create strongly intentional and effective developmental opportunities for students that also have the potential for greater impact on organizations, especially over time.                

 

 

Campus-wide Culture and Infrastructure: 


Key relationships and activities involving faculty and academic connections.  In particular, what work was done with relevant coursework, a minor, or other curricular integration.

 

 

The minor in civic engagement grew to eight students last year, with five of those being past, current, or incoming Bonner students. The upcoming Year of the Citizen theme is already bringing Bonner students and staff together with administrators, faculty, and other students on campus as the planning process evolves.  

 

The social entrepreneurship course for Bonners, students in the CE minor, and other interested students seems to be having an impact on some students and their career choices (as is the Bonner program most notably), as well as providing a link for LC to the statewide Phoenix Project. For the last two years, LC has had Bonner students attending the PP's summer nonprofit leadership program, and this summer the Bonner director was invited to teach a session on nonprofit sustainability beyond grants and fundraising, which focused on the growing "fouth sector" of organizations which are combining nonprofit and for-profit activities. 

 

The community-based research initiative at LC grew significantly last year in its involvement of Bonner students, as mentioned earlier. (Please let us know if you would like a copy of our recent report for the CBR grant project.)

            

Key relationships and activities involving other departments or divisions on campus (for example for recruitment, student wellness or retention, financial aid, and so on).

 

 

Lynchburg College’s Bonner leader program has had the opportunity to work with many different departments this past year. We have had students and staff actively participate with our Office of Student Activities the annual Anderson Leadership Conference where citizenship was the main focus. One of our students spearheaded our campus-wide Hunger and Homelessness initiative. Events were orchestrated for the entire campus to participate in such as: a sleep out in the dell, hunger banquet, and hunger and homeless panel. Local community members were asked to speak with our student body about these ever pressing issues. Other involved departments included sociology and political science. Bonners also worked in direct correlation with our Year of the Environment and the science department, raising awareness of issues in the local and national area and providing opportunities for service. Our students also composed a letter to our Lynchburg College President Garren requesting that this year’s theme be the Year of Citizenship and include a focus on service. We are proud to announce that our 2008-2009 Lynchburg theme is indeed Year of the Citizen.

Unique initiatives (such as events or strategic planning) that have enhanced institutionalization of service and civic engagement on campus.

 

The initiatives and connections mentioned in the sections above have all contributed to the general awareness and institutionalization of the Bonner program, civic engagement, CBR, and social entrepreneurship on campus and in the community as well. While we are focusing in the coming semester on our community partnerships and working with partners as co-educators, we also need to continue to engage faculty and administrators in our efforts and program development, especially as we look at the possibility for program expansion.

 

 

Thank you to everyone at the Bonner Foundation for the incredible support you've provided to us and our program over the years, and the growing accessibility to tools and means of sharing information with colleagues in the network!           

 

 

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