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Ripon Annual Report 2007-2008

Page history last edited by CharlesOberweiser 12 years ago

Annual Report 2007-08


Implementation of Student Development: 


Our training program for first year students begins with a three-day orientation program.  During the summer our senior intern restructured the agenda, giving current Bonner students the responsibility to deliver nearly all the orientation sessions.  The Bonner Director and Coordinator delivered only two of the sessions, with current Bonners providing key information on the program, leading activities, and facilitating reflection discussions.


After orientations, training for our first years centers on a year-long academic course taught by our Bonner Director.  Last year, we structured the course to cover each common commitment, but found this resulted in a bit of a scattered approach.  This year, we have decided to use an ongoing discussion of poverty as a common thread from which we can build discussions of each of the commitment areas.


First years also join the entire Bonner cohort in three multi-day retreats held off campus. Last year, these retreats focused on communication/publicity, social justice, and interpersonal dynamics.  Each retreat included a balance of training, fun activities, and a group service project.  The entire cohort also attends weekly meetings, where topics rotate among presentations by upperclass students about how their projects addressed particular challenges, Bonner-specific information on paperwork and other issues, and reflection sessions.


After their first year, many Bonners moved into the newly-created role of site coordinator.  These students work to build capacity at our nonprofit partners by coordinating placements, conducting volunteer orientations, planning events and recruiting volunteers from across campus.  These coordinators attend a weekly training from the OCE staff, as well as a receiving one-on-one advice weekly from the Bonner student who oversees their cluster of sites.


This year we added a handful of promising first year students into site coordinator roles at new sites.  We were able to do this by matching each with one of our two AmeriCorps*VISTA members, who can provide extensive one-on-one coaching for the students.


Our senior leadership positions, including our cluster leaders, outreach coordinator, and senior interns meet several times per week with a member of the OCE staff for individualized guidance on their current challenges, as well as training that meets their long-term learning goals.


Regardless of their role in the office, all Bonners have monthly one-on-one meetings with our Bonner Director, Deano Pape.  These meetings are an opportunity to recap the month, discuss challenges with service projects, and ensure a balance between service and academics.  All Bonners are also eligible to participate in our service trips.  Our first week-long exchange trip occurred in Spring 2008, as 11 Bonners traveled to Ferrum College in Virginia.  We plan a week-long immersion trip to urban Chicago during our Fall Break this semester, and are considering opportunities for another exchange trip this spring.



Implementation of Community Partnerships: 


Our approach to developing nonprofit partnerships changed dramatically with the implementation of student site coordinator positions this fall. 


These students were asked to work as if they were the agencies’ volunteer coordinators, doing the work of volunteer recruitment, training and monitoring that agency staff did not have the time to undertake.  While the role of site coordinators looked similar to the leaders of site-based teams at other Bonner programs, we asked our site coordinators to keep a campus-wide focus in their efforts.  We believed this approach would immediately build capacity among our nonprofit partners, which are often very small agencies. 


The first demonstration of just how quickly these students could build capacity for our partners came in an unexpected way.  Each year our office holds a volunteer fair in early September that draws more than 200 students who have an interest in service.  This year, two of our site coordinators learned their agencies wouldn’t have a booth at the fair because of time conflicts for the agency’s staff.  Instead, these two students decided they would staff the booths themselves, to ensure the agency would recruit a strong number of student volunteers.  These work of these two Bonner students will provide a benefit throughout the year for their agencies, as well as helping to make the event the largest in its four-year history.


During the year, we expect our site coordinators will organize a formal site visit at the end of each semester that will include OCE staff, students who volunteered at the agency, and agency representatives.  We will also ask our site coordinators to meet with the agency in February to construct a strategic plan for the following academic year.


In addition to establishing the site coordinator positions, we have worked more vigorously as an office to keep constant communication with our nonprofit partners.  We held our first ever orientation for nonprofit partners during a breakfast held in August 2008.  A half-dozen agency representatives attended the breakfast, as well as faculty members interested in community engagement, a Bonner senior intern, and other OCE staff.  Based on suggestions from the event, we are working on communication strategies with our partners, have developed a handbook for new agencies, and will be inviting partners to be speakers in Bonner events including our introductory course.





Campus-wide Culture and Infrastructure: 


Connections with the academic division remain a key asset of Ripon’s Bonner program.  Our office grew out of a faculty-sponsored committee designed to support service-learning among fellow faculty.  We strongly encourage Bonner students to participate in some of the dozens of service-learning courses on campus, and even offered training for Bonners in service-learning so they could develop their own projects within their courses.  Ripon now offers a minor in Civic Advocacy through our Communication Department, and we continue to discuss this possibility with Bonner students.


As Ripon’s Bonner program has grown, so have our relationships with other offices on campus.  The financial aid office introduced an institutional scholarship for students participating in the Bonner program, and the admission office has incorporated Bonner into their regular schedule for prospective students.  Our program now works actively with our Ethical Leadership Program, Student Activities Office, and Multicultural Affairs Office to offer joint programming and increase the scope of community engagement across our campus.

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