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Bonner Scholars

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Congratulations! You have found an opportunity right here at Carson-Newman University, which 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 Scholars program at Carson-Newman receive a package of scholarship support (the amount of the Bonner Scholarship varies by student, but can range from $2,500 - $25,000) in return for participating in an intensive program of community service, professional skill development, and working for positive change in the world. Participants are called “Bonners” for short.

To learn more about the network, and how vast and influential it is feel free to look at the Bonner Wiki page, the link is below. This page is very helpful in finding volunteer opportunities across the nation,  understanding how and where to engage near your campus, finding what resources are available within the network, finding other Bonner schools near you and more!


One of the many places where this imaginative spirit thrives is at the Bonner Center at Carson-Newman. Situated on the right side of First Baptist Church, the building's bright color mimics the constant birth of amazing ideas that revolutionize the non-profit sector. The Bonner Center, as it’s called by the students, is a free flowing building. Housing offices, but also space for students across the campus to study, read, converse about an array of topics and/or just relax. While the building is used often for formal meetings, it continues to perpetuate an environment and culture of unconditional acceptance, difficult conversations, productive conflict, and general fun.

While the center promotes a free flowing, easy going environment, scholars are by no means unfamiliar with a strong schedule and work ethic. Bonners volunteer an average of 10 hours per week during the school year, which breaks down to eight hours of community service and civic engagement along with two hours of program support involvements (such as leadership workshops). This commitment totals 140 hours per semester. Bonners also spend some time each week documenting their Bonner work by keeping accurate records of their service and learning. Moreover, the center staff, as well as the rest of scholars, urge each other to shoot higher and achieve as many hours as they can. 

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. 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. Bonners are encouraged to use their funds to go and engage in local service, but also to venture out to international experiences in order to maximize the impact of these two incredible summers. 

By the time you reach this point in the description of our program you may be quite overwhelmed. Don't worry you're not alone; the stress happens to everyone. However, you have reached the point of understanding a little deeper about how intensive and influential this program is on the community, campus, and the students who are a part of it. The Bonner Center prides itself on empowering you to manage this stress through weekly meetings, available office time to plan your week and year out, and even a diverse student presence that represents almost every department. 

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 can be found on the Prospective Students section of the Bonner Center's website, which can be found in the link below. If you have any further questions, concerns, or objections you may contact our center at 865-471-3594 or                           

Scholarship Requirments
2.7 GPA, 18 ACT
Prior service experience, commitment to education, service, and justice.

Priority given to students with high financial need

 Applicant Interview (on campus preferred, Skype or phone interview available)

For a more comprehensive understanding of the Bonner Scholars program please check out the Bonner Scholars Logic Model at:


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