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Rider University Congress Proposal

Page history last edited by Krista Forbes 10 years, 5 months ago






Rider University


Bonner Orientation Proposal



     In our endeavor to make Rider University a just community, we commit ourselves, as caring individuals, to the following principle: that we recognize that real leadership is derived from service to others. With this community value in mind, RiderUniversity’s Bonner Community Scholars Program cheerfully serves the Lawrenceville, Trenton, and Rider University communities. Combined with training and enrichment activities, the program strives to develop good citizens with civic confidence and competence.

     Rider University’s Bonner Community Scholars Program has seen several changes over the course of the past few years. The program, which originally started as a student organization about ten students strong, has grown to a corps of nearly sixty students. This dramatic increase in membership has lead to the addition of another staff member to help direct the program. Also, last year’s director had left for personal reasons, and a new staff member has taken her place. Lastly, the expansion of the corps has lead to a call for student leadership among the upperclassmen in the corps. All of these new resources are working to reshape the Rider University Bonner Community Scholars Program.

     In the Past, Bonner's learn about their role in the Bonner Program during their Bonner Orientation in September.  Bonners participated in three days of orientation.  On the first day, Bonners get together for a pizza dinner and break out sessions to fill out paperwork.  Only freshman attend the second day of orientation.  On that day, freshman would learn about our community partners from guest speakers from each non-profit.  Freshman would then make of list of sites they would enjoy serving at.  The day would end with a trip to Bonner Foundation to meet the Foundation staff and tour the house.  On the last day of orientation, Bonners would learn about expectations of the year as a Bonner student and receive Bonner training.

     We feel that our Bonner orientation should be restructured into a more meaningful experience for our Bonners, especially our freshman.  In the past, we have noticed a drop in our freshman class after orientation.  We want to restructure our orientation so that Bonners are given the tools they need for a successful year in the program. 


Big Idea:

     We envision freshman orientation being a retreat of sorts. The students would be invited to move on to campus the weekend before classes start. In the past, orientation has occurred the weekend after classes have started. With all of the issues that come with the start of a new semester, having the orientation during this time period makes it seem more of a burden than an opportunity to learn and get inspired about the program to which you are about to commit a large portion of your time. This freshman retreat will be an excellent bonding experience and the relationships established there will be worthwhile and lasting. Also, time must be spent in aiding the first years in deciding what social issues they most care about. Then they must be exposed to the resources our program can offer them to aid them in their endeavors to make an impact regarding that social issue.     

     Another issue with the current orientation program is that ninety percent of the three day program is spent indoors and on campus.  Therefore, we envision a Saturday entirely off campus and with our established community partners.  This will help our first year students get a better picture of our community partners and help them choose where they want to do their service.  This is also a fun way to engage and motivate our students. 

     Lastly, we envision a revival and reconstruction of the Big Bonner/Little Bonner Mentoring. Every first year gets an upperclassman go-to, with whom they can confide and ask questions. This is particularly necessary as the corps has been growing and will continue to grow so exponentially over the next few years. Through a more structured approach to the mentoring, it will help the first years feel not-so-lost in the big, big program.


Plan of Action:

The freshmen orientation program will require the involvement of:

Senior Bonner Intern: Chelsea Kovacs

Community Impact Intern: Lindsey Peletier

Bonner Congress Representatives: Jaime Szyarto and Joe Landolfi

Big Bonner/Little Bonner Mentoring Coordinator: Abbey Kaiser

Site-Based Team Leaders: 

     Eggert's Crossing Village - Amanda Matero

     El Centro - Nicole Addess

     Enable - Loni Chasar

     Habitat for Humanity - Mike Wallenburg

     HomeFront FPC - Ashley Nelson

     HomeFront Joy, Hopes & Dreams - Nicole DiLeone

     Minding Our Business - Jessica O'Neill

     Mercer Street Friends After School Program - Ashley Richert

     Mercer Street Friends Food Bank - Kelly Bernard

     Trenton Area Soup Kitchen (TASK) - Heather Koshar

Under the advisory of:

     Assisstant Director of Student Life for Community Service/ Bonner Director: Annie Pasqua

     Coordinator of Community Service/ Bonner Director: Jacquelyn Wonsey

     Dean of Students: Dr. Anthony Campbell


     Bonner Congress will help us learn the skills needed to fully-develop and carry-through a comprehensive program such as the one proposed. We will learn how to make the experience a meaningful one with the intention of developing a more sincere and devoted group of first years each and every year that this new orientation program is implemented.  



     We propose to develop a more meaningful Freshman Orientation Program for the Rider University Bonner Community Scholars Program. Our intention is to start on the best foot possible in establishing a culture of service among the corps’s newest membership. The program will occur before class starts, when students can afford the time to focus on the Bonner Program. Through guided self-exploration, the students will develop their own opinions about social issues and they will pinpoint what social issues to which they are most interested in devoting their time. Next, they will complete a service project together based on the social issues they are interested in working with. They will be paired with a Big Bonner that shares a similar vision. Lastly, they will be trained in using social networking tools as a call to service. Then they will implement what they have learned practically by actually planning and carrying through their own service project.




Bonner Leadership Team Proposal



            With board member of the New Jersey Commission for Community Service, Dean Campbell, serving as Dean of Student, RiderUniversity has grown into an institution that develops leaders who strive to serve others.  These values of service and leadership lead to the Birth of the Rider Bonner Leader Program.  The Bonner Leader Program, also known as the Rider Community Scholars Program (RCS), was established on Rider’s Campus in 2000.  Over the past decade, Rider’s Bonner Program has grown from 8 to almost 60 students.  In the years to come, Rider wishes the Bonner Leader Program to grow to 80 students.

            Rider Bonner leaders serve the Trenton area and tackle issues such as education, youth development, disabilities, hunger, and homelessness.  Currently Rider Bonners work with eight community partners including Habitat for Humanity, Enable, Mercer Street Friends. Eggert’s CrossingVillage, El Centro, Minding Our Business, and HomeFront.  Rider Community Scholars work in site-based and class-based teams. 

            Over the past few years, Rider Community Scholars has faced a few challenges.  From fall of 2000 to the spring of 2009, RCS has gone through about five staff members, averaging about two years for each staff member.  Most Bonners have had at least two different staff members during their four year stay at RiderUniversity.  This constant change in leadership as made it hard for the Rider Bonner Leader Program to follow the Bonner developmental model.  Few third and fourth year Bonners were given the guidance and support to serve in upper level placements, due to this constant change.  This instability in staff membership also lead to little student voice in the Bonner Program.

            Starting in the fall of 2009, RiderUniversity has hired two new experienced staff members to lead the Bonner Program.  One was a previous staff member at the Bonner Foundation in Princeton and the other was a previous Americorps Program Director in Chicago.  With their past experiences, this new staff team has opened up a number of opportunities for the Rider Bonner Leader Program. 


Big Idea:

            A Bonner Leadership Team (BLT) will help the Rider Community Scholars Program gain more student voice, more leadership opportunities, and more upper level placements.  The Bonner Leadership Team is a team of staff and students working together to improve the efficiency of their Bonner Leader Program.  Students can inform staff members of their past experiences in the program and help determine what does and doesn’t work for RCS.  Staff members can bring new ideas to the students and have the students decide how these new ideas will work best with their program.  This team allows students to take charge of their program while still allowing staff to take control. 

            The Bonner Leadership Team will tackle many tasks throughout the year.  These tasks include developing a Rider Bonner Leader Program Constitution and Bonner Student Handbook, creating videos for the Bonner video project, revising and utilizing the Bonner wiki, planning service projects of the month, improving communication amongst corps members, and coming up with trainings for the corps.  The BLT will meet twice a month to work on these tasks.

            Students can take on one of three roles in the Bonner Leadership Team.  The Senior Bonner Intern will lead the BLT.  Bonner Congress Representatives will keep the team informed about national initiatives and voice Riders initiatives to the national network.  Class Representatives will keep the team informed about issues their classes are facing as well as ideas and opinions of their classmates.  Class Representatives will be the voice of their class.  Applications will be required for all roles in the BLT.  The Senior Bonner intern will be chosen by the staff and assist in choosing the two Congress Reps and one Class Rep.  One Class Representative will be elected by his or her peers.  A Congress Rep can also serve as a Class Rep. 


Plan of Action:

For the 2009-2010 school year, the following Bonners will serve on the BLT:

-Staff- Annie Pasqua and Jackie Wonsey

-Senior Intern: Chelsea Kovacs

-Congress Reps: Jaime Szyarto and Joe Landolfi

-2 first year students: Shae Bronson and Tommy Saladino

-2 second year students: Abby Kaeser and Joe Landolfi

-2 third year students: Hilary Coutler and  Jaime Szyarto

-2 fourth year students: Chelsea Kovacs and Mike Wallenburg


The BLT will meet bi-weekly to tackle the following tasks:

-developing a Rider Bonner Leader Program Constitution

-developing a Bonner Student Handbook

-the Bonner video project

-revising the Bonner wiki

-service projects of the month

-improving communication

-coming up with trainings for the corps


            The Bonner Leadership Team is a great tool to help improve Rider’s Bonner Leader Program.  During this time of transition, the BLT will help staff and students moving forward, stay motivated and organized, and develop new initiatives to improve Rider Community Scholars.

Review the guidelines on the project before getting started: 

Bonner Congress Project Proposal Guidelines.pdf



For a written proposal example click here: 

Mock Congress Proposal .pdf

For a video example click here:




Update - Report to Share in the 20th Anniversary Congress Booklet

We intend to create a beautifully designed book to be distributed at the 20th Anniversary Summer Leadership Institute that shares with the entire Bonner Network the work of Congress Representatives in 2009-2010 on their big ideas. Please write your report in the format below. For an example, click on this page:  http://bonnernetwork.pbworks.com/Big-Idea-Summaries


1) Title (of your project/big idea - feel free to update from the fall).


2) The Case: Tell us briefly the history of the challenge you tackled with your Big Idea. This should be no more than 100 words.


3) The Solution:  What is your Big Idea?  What was the idea to tackle this challenge?  This should be no more than 300 words.


4) The Process: Tell us in more detail what your Big Idea is.  Please illustrate how your “Big Idea” addresses the root issues of the problems you are working with.  What are the specific issues, needs, or gaps your idea sought to improve and how did it improve them?  This should be no more than 500 words (two paragraphs).


Please upload 2-3 relevant photos (of your Reps, project, etc.).  Try to select photos that have high resolution quality. This will appear in the booklet.


The deadline for this update if you want your school to be considered and included in the book is FRIDAY, APRIL 30th!





March 2010


June 2010










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