Bonner Scholars Program
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05 Feb 2002 - 02 Jul 2012
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Campus > Bonner Scholars Program > Background

Now completing its 15th full year, the Bonner Scholars Program was initiated at Berea College in Kentucky during the 1990-91 academic year. In the following year, the program expanded to 12 campuses and 750 students before growing to its current size of 27 schools and approximately 1,600 students.
With the basics in place at these schools, the Bonner Foundation then endowed the Bonner Scholars Program at seven schools--Berry College, Concord College, Davidson College, DePauw University, Emory & Henry College, Spelman College, and the University of Richmond. These gifts, worth $35.67 million, were in turn matched by $7.25 million appropriated by the schools themselves. In all, nearly $43 million was set aside to guarantee support in perpetuity to 580 Bonner Scholars annually. The remaining 18 participating Bonner colleges and universities continue to be funded each year from the Bonner Foundation's endowment as well as from each college's scholarship or operating funds.
With an endowed program or not, all colleges in the program operate under a set of broad guidelines, and each has developed a Bonner Scholars Program that meets the needs of its student body and the unique culture of its campus. At the Foundation, we have believed from the beginning that the participating colleges' presidents, administrators, faculty, and most particularly Bonner Scholars should lead their program's development and have an important voice in the national program's direction.
To this end, the Bonner Scholars Program has organized training workshops and regular meetings for its core constituencies. Since 1991, it has sponsored an annual meeting for Bonner Scholar coordinators. Since 1993, the Program has run a Summer Leadership Institute for 50-100 Bonner Scholars, with participants from each Bonner school. More recently, the program has also convened a series of regional weekend training workshops for Bonner students. Designed to build students' capacity to develop the Bonner Scholars Program on their campus, these mini-conferences provide nuts-and-bolts guidance on running effective community service initiatives.
Seeking to involve faculty more directly in the Bonner programming, the Bonner Scholars Program invited professors from participating campuses in the Spring of 1994 to the Highlander Institute for Social Change in New Market, Tennessee to discuss issues in service-based learning. Beginning in the Fall of 1995, the Foundation held its first annual gathering of Bonner Program directors to share their programs' accomplishments and discuss ways to improve the Bonner Scholars Program in the future. More recently, the Bonner Foundation has organized the Community Research Project, which involves eight Bonner institutions and seven additional campuses from across the country.
Since 1994, the Bonner Scholars Program has organized bi-annual "summits," which gather scholars, coordinators, community leaders, faculty, and presidents to discuss a wide range of issues. This meeting, which brings together representatives from all parts of a campus community, is unique in the service and higher education field.
Today, while Bonner Scholars Programs are in place in 27 schools, the national program continues to look for new ways to enable students, coordinators, faculty, and college presidents to improve the Bonner model so that it might better meet the developing needs of students, colleges, and the communities in which Scholars serve.

The Bonner Foundation • 10 Mercer Street • Princeton, NJ 08540
609-924-6663 Phone • 609-683-4626 FAX •
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