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Placement in Bonner Community Partnership Framework

Page history last edited by Mike Austerlitz 12 years, 3 months ago


     The purpose of this guide is to set out some ideas about how campus-based Bonner Programs can approach their work in building and managing community partnerships. The graphic of the triangle below captures a key framework, which mirrors the developmental model with an increasing level of responsibility in placements. In this framework, there are four main levels of work:

  • Occasional volunteer (level 1)
  • Regular volunteer (level 2)
  • Project/Site Coordinator (level 3)
  • Planning team/specialist (level 4)


While these levels do not strictly tie in with the four E’s, they do parallel them quite nicely. For instance, over the course of the Bonner Scholar Program experience, a student may likely be involved in many short-term projects of the occasional volunteer type (even when they are juniors and seniors), regular volunteer placements during sophomore year, project coordinator roles during the junior year, and some kind of specialist role during the senior year. While the progression may not always be linear, the main idea is that a student moves consistently from being an occasional volunteer to a member of a planning team level (problem-solving) over the course of their years in the program. Ideally, this happens somewhat systematically for students who are part of the Bonner Program. Students’ development is supported both by the nature of the service placements themselves and additional support through co-curricular activities, advising, academic connections, and other forms.

The table below describes what may be the student developmental model connection, time frames, key processes with partners, and service placement characteristics at each level.


Level 1 Placement — Occasional Volunteer (Exploration):

Timeframe Description of Student Placement Roles

• Projects may be anywhere from 1 day to 1 semester;

• Partnerships may be multi-year but without the expectation of consistent volunteers

• Bonner students are not required to do Community Learning Agreements but do report hours in BWBRS

In these placements, the student is getting an introductory experience to working with the particular issue area, agency, and/or neighborhood. These are typical direct service placements of a short-term nature. They may include physical builds, tutoring or educational support for a short time period, projects, immersion experiences, trips, working on the front line for an agency, and administrative work. The project assignments and placements, may be entry-level, and they may include room for exploration, training, coaching, and guidance. In some cases, they may be more sophisticated, but still of a short-term nature, like engaging a more experienced student in planning and running a large-scale service event.

Level 2 Placement — Regular Volunteer (Experience):

Timeframe Description of Student Placement Roles

• At least a Semester-long Partnership;

• May involve written application;

• Students complete Community Learning Agreements

In these placements, the student is working consistently with a particular issue area, agency, and/or neighborhood. These positions may be direct service roles that are defined for one semester, like tutoring the same child, or may involve a project or initiative, like working on a curriculum design team to create HIV/AIDS training for high school students. These positions may involve organizational and project planning work. In addition, the student volunteer has a consistent presence and acts as a professional within the workplace setting. He or she may still want direction but also the opportunity to take initiative. While commonly suited for a student’s second year, these positions may begin in a student’s first year, as s/he takes on a regular placement. The projects may be less or more complex (e.g., easy or hard in terms of skills required), but the structure is built upon the expectation of consistent volunteerism over a period of time.

Level 3 Placement — Project/Site Coordinator (Example):

Timeframe Description of Student Placement Roles

• At least a One-Year Partnership but probably Multi-Year;

• Agency completes of written application;

• Students complete Community Learning Agreements

In these positions, the student is engaged in the capacity of a coordinator for a project and/or site, coordinating the efforts of other student or non-student volunteers. Roles include recruiting, planning, organizing, managing, and implementing projects or programs. The student volunteer has usually risen into this position through working as an occasional and/or regular volunteer. The student may also need special training for this role.
* We encourage Bonner Programs to develop Site/Project Coordinator positions with any agency where more than three students are serving.

Level 4 Placement — Planning Team Leader/Specialist (Expertise):

Timeframe Description of Student Placement Roles

• Multi-Year Partnership characterized by high levels of collaboration;

• Written site agreements and applications;

• Students complete Community Learning Agreements

In these positions, the student volunteer is seen by the agency as operating as a part-time staff member with significant responsibilities, often in conjunction with other staff or a planning team. In these positions, agencies work to determine a high-level position for experienced students, involving program management or implementation (e.g., teaching, curriculum development, project design), research, program design, and planning. The position may involve longer-range strategic planning for the agency itself or some of its key initiatives, with the student volunteer in a leadership role. In addition, the student may be able to make academic connections in order to bolster his or her work, be involved in community-based research, or receive credit for academically oriented work.
* In some cases, the student him/herself may have initiated this level of partnership with the agency, through sustained work there. The agency may or may not be interested in forging a long-term partnership involving student work at this level.


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