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The Bonner Program


Carson-Newman is part of a national network of over 75 colleges and universities affiliated with the Corella & Bertram F. Bonner Foundation, a non-profit organization in Princeton, NJ, dedicated to “providing access to education and opportunities to serve.” Students admitted to the Bonner Program at Carson-Newman receive a package of scholarship support in return for participating in an intensive program of community service, professional skills development, and working for positive change in the world. Participants are called “Bonners” for short.

Bonners imagine a better world and learn to make it so. The Bonner Program is about making a positive difference through community service and activism. Being a Bonner helps the student earn an education that complements classroom learning with real-life, hands-on experience. Being a Bonner  involves a commitment not only to service, but also to learning how to be an effective change agent for one’s campus, community, and beyond. Bonners broaden their education by being involved in life outside the classroom as leaders, activists, and citizens. Many Bonner Scholars integrate travel including international travel into their overall Bonner experience at Carson-Newman.

Bonners volunteer an average of 10 hours per week during the school year, which breaks down to eight hours of community service and activism along with two hours of program support involvements. This commitment totals 140 hours per semester. In terms of program support involvements, Bonners participate in activities such as project-based and class-based meetings, community-building retreats, national conferences and regional exchange programs involving other Bonner schools, service-learning trips, and professional skills trainings and workshops. Bonners also spend some time each week documenting their Bonner work by keeping accurate records of their service and learning.

In addition to the school year, Bonners must complete at least two summers of service that include stipends for the work and for some summer living expenses. The summer work can be done at Carson-Newman, your hometown, or elsewhere, even overseas. Each summer’s requirement is 280 hours over at least seven weeks. An advantage of the summer work is that it can be a paid position over and above receiving the Bonner stipends. Many Bonners apply their summer expense money to help pay for Bonner-related international travel. During the school year, Bonners are matched with one or more local community organizations or projects and set up a regular weekly schedule of service. The service can take a variety of forms including direct service, community-based research, social entrepreneurship, and public policy advocacy. Bonners cannot count service that is primarily religious, is performed as part of one’s military duty, or occurs in a for profit business setting.

Most Bonners qualify for need-based financial assistance. Students in the program receive a scholarship package including awards from the Bonner Foundation plus other sources of aid such as work-study, need-based grants and scholarships, and in some cases a guaranteed student loan. Stipends and living expenses for summer service are also financial benefits of the program, along with eligibility for special project grants. 

The Bonner program offers a great opportunity for leadership training and experience. Our motto is “Become the Change,” meaning we seek to embody the changes we want to see in the world, which we express in our “Common Commitments.”

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 application for the Bonner Scholars program is now closed. If you have any further questions, concerns, or objections you may contact our center at 865-471-3594 or bonner@cn.edu. 

Requirements Important Dates
2.7 GPA, 18 ACT Priority Deadline December 1st
 Prior service experience, commitment to education, service, and justice. Final Deadline January 9th
 Priority given to students with high financial need FAFSA Due February 2nd
 Applicant Interview (on campus preferred, Skype or phone interview available) Interview Day in middle of February (date TBD)

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