The Bonner Scholar Program was created with the belief that college students engaged in service have unique gifts and talents that bring energy, creativity, and hope to individuals and communities. It is also based on the belief that colleges and universities can and must be a "telling presence" in their local communities. In launching and supporting the Bonner Scholars Program, the Bonner Foundation has entered into a partnership with participating institutions that have made a commitment to envision new possibilities for campus-community partnerships.
Once a student enrolls in the Bonner Program, he or she commits to a series of expectations including the following:
- Arriving on campus before the regular freshmen orientation to participate in an orientations program designed specifically for new Bonner Scholars;
- Serving an average of ten hours a week at a community service site during the school year;
- Completing at least two full-time summer service internships;
- Engaging in a comprehensive placement process for required service work, including establishing service and learning goals and defining methods for achieving these goals;
- Attending regular group reflection, enrichment and training activities through which the student will be challenged and supported in developing his or her skills, knowledge, commitments and responsibilities; and
- Considering ways to integrate his or her academic studies with community service activities.
What is at the heart of the Bonner Program? Certainly the goals of the Bonner Program transcend the number of hours served and the amount of financial assistance received. The Bonner Program is committed to engaging and supporting individuals to be involved in thoughtful, meaningful and transformative service activities that benefit all involved. How do we articulate what it means to serve thoughtfully and effectively?
The Bonner Foundation has engaged in an intensive process of information gathering from students, faculty, administrators, and community members from within and outside the Bonner Community. Through this work, six common commitments have been identified that embody the work of those involved in the Bonner Program. It is clear that these issues are important and active in the daily life of the Bonner community. These commitments are meant to guide and support the direct service and reflection work that we engage in as members of that community.
- Social Justice: Advocate for fairness, impartiality and equality while addressing systemic social and environmental issues.
- Civic Engagement: Participate intentionally as a citizen in the democratic process, actively engaging in public policy and direct service.
- Community-Building: Establish and sustain a vibrant community of place, personal relationships and common interests.
- Spiritual Exploration: Explore personal beliefs while respecting the spiritual practices of others.
- International Perspective: Develop international understanding that enables individuals to participate successfully and sensitively in a global society.
- Diversity: Respect and engage the many different dimensions of diversity in our public lives.
The terms we have used to identify these common commitments are meant to convey a concept and an ideal without providing a final definition to a word. We will move together individually and as a community to explore, develop and engage the notion of common commitments throughout the Bonner Program.