Bonner Fellows Progression

Program Overview

Bonner infographic

In August of 2017, the Collaborative for Community Engagement (CCE) at Colorado College launched a pilot Bonner Fellowship by placing five students from the class of 2021 in high-commitment, paid internships with community organizations. These five students were the first Bonner Fellows at CC. As a cohort, these students participated in trainings that supported skill-building in the nonprofit and public sectors, deepened their knowledge around the social and environmental issues facing Colorado Springs and the Pikes Peak Region and joined a supportive community of peers through team building and community formation activities. Following the success of this pilot year, an additional ten students in each class have joined the Colorado College Bonner Fellowship. The 2020-2021 school year is the first year in which we have had a full program of first years through seniors. You can find all of our Bonner Fellow bios on our website, through this linkIn the 2021-22 academic year, we have decided not to recruit a new class of Bonners. We, instead, will be focusing our efforts on shifting Bonner to a 3-year model for the next year. Our hopes in piloting a 3-year Bonner Fellowship are to allow students the opportunity to enter CC in their first year and freely explore their passions and motivations in community engagement work, but also across campus, before making the commitment to the Bonner Fellowship.

Bonners complete around 24 hours of community-engaged learning, reflection, and action each block with community partners across Colorado Springs.Throughout their time in the program, Bonners attend blockly Changemaker Workshops where they develop valuable knowledge about themselves, the city of Colorado Springs and the Pikes Peak Region, and theories of social change. During these years, educational sessions are co-curricular workshops and students receive internships credit for their work in the program. This curriculum is part of the paid Fellowship. Through this curriculum and their experience working in the community, Bonners develop the skills, knowledge, and values that will support them in their future work and careers. Bonners also meet as a full community once a block for All Bonner meetings, and with small reflection groups in order to meaningfully integrate their trainings and their work in the community and the classroom.

The primary goal of the Bonner Fellowship is to provide a community and pathway to a group of diverse students, enabling them to grow in civic leadership through their work in the community. Bonners come from diverse backgrounds that are often underrepresented at Colorado College, and are afforded financial support for their work in the community. The Bonner model provides a three-part support system to students that includes deep partnerships between our students and community organizations, solidarity between Bonner students, and direct mentorship from CCE staff.

In following the Bonner model, Colorado College joins a vibrant, nationally recognized network of more than 60 participating colleges and universities ranging from Oberlin College to Brown University. Bonner students at Colorado College become a part of a national community, united by the idea of "Bonner Love." enables our Bonner alumni to connect with each other, search for job opportunities, begin mentorship relationships, find personal and professional resources, form shared interest groups - and so much more!

Click here for more information about the goals of the Bonner Fellowship!

Bonner Fellowship Stages


Prior to Joining: Exploration

In your first year at CC, we encourage you to reach out to any and all current Bonners, as well as CCE staff members as you think through whether or not Bonner might be a good fit for you. Your first year is also a chance for you to explore your interests in community engagement work, so that you might be prepared to engage in some deeper learning and commitment. We will have many opportunities for students to interact with the Bonner program through informal gatherings, info sessions, and various other CCE activities.

As you prepare to apply to the Bonner Fellowship at Colorado College, you might consider researching and journaling about the following questions - or talking with a friend or family member.

  • What is Colorado College like, and how might my experience be different as a Bonner Fellow?
  • What is Colorado Springs like? What issues does the city and region face, and where might I see myself getting involved to make a positive difference?
  • What local partner organizations would I like to work with? Why are these organizations interesting to me?
  • What might other Bonners be like? How might I build relationships with students in my cohort as well as older students?
  • Who are the CCE staff members? How might I build a strong relationship with CCE staff? What additional resources does the CCE provide? How might I develop relationships with these staff members?
  • How would I define success for myself in the Bonner Fellowship? Numbers of hours worked, impact made on individuals or groups, personal growth and well being? Something else?

The Bonner Fellowship is designed to help you grow personally through skill development, personal discernment, engagement with communities beyond the campus, and community formation with other Bonners. It's an opportunity for you to develop the skills you need to make a difference - both while you are a student in Colorado Springs and in your life after college. Bonner staff and other Bonners are here to support and facilitate that experience for you, but as with all of college - and throughout your life - you must take the lead role in your own education and development.

First Year: Gain Experience

Your year of exploration should have led you to identify a population, issue, or skill upon which you will focus. Your second year is about working with an organization to focus on that issue, work with that population, or cultivate and develop your skills. Equally important is the development of a set of professional skills, habits, and sensibilities that prepare you to be effective in the world of work. You will have site supervisor(s) in the community to whom you will report throughout the second year, and learning how to communicate with your supervisor and other staff is a critical learning goal. You might also learn how community agencies function from the inside - how budgets are made, how priorities emerge as action items, how projects develop and are managed, and where your particular organization(s) sit within the larger ecosystem of nonprofit and government agencies in Colorado Springs.

In general, the first year in the program is about going deeper than exploration: spending more time with one site; developing deeper knowledge about a particular issue or population; cultivating relationships with your fellow Bonners. In this year, you also want to prepare yourself to do 'signature work' in your second year as a Bonner. Specifically, you want to begin developing a capstone project, often a capacity building project, that you will implement in your second year. The goal is to meaningfully integrate your academic work and your community engagement into a project that will expand the capacity of a community site.

We encourage you to study abroad in your junior year in the program, and to begin exploring this in your sophomore year. By this time, you will hopefully have built a community with your Bonner cohort and other students at CC, narrowed in on your academic major and course of study, and developed some skills and sensibilities through community engagement that will be very helpful in a study abroad experience. We encourage you to build on all these experiences in creating a plan to study abroad in your second year in the program that includes community engagement. We ask that you develop this plan in conversation with CCE staff before you commit to a study abroad experience.

Finally, you will craft a Community Learning Agreement to govern your work and relationship with your community partner. You will create an updated CLA with your partner before the end of Block 4, and create a new CLA to govern your second year before the end of Block 7.

First Year Primary Experiential Learning Goals:
  • Develop knowledge of an issue and gain experience working on that issue
  • Develop professional communication skills
  • Network with other students at CC in coalitions and organizations who may be interested in working on your issue in an effort to begin thinking about Collective Impact
  • Start to plan your capstone project with a focus on capacity building, signature work
  • If interested in study abroad, develop a plan for your junior year
First Year Overview
  • Ongoing: CCE Changemaker Curriculum blockly workshops, All Bonner meetings, Reflection Groups, Issue-Based Coalitions, independent community engagement (virtual partnerships or project-based work during the pandemic)
  • Fall: Bonner Leadership Team (BLT) applications open, CLA, join issue-based coalition(s)
  • Spring: Sophomore Exchange trip, CLA for next year, Capacity-building project idea (brainstorming), Co-op intern applications open
  • Summer: Local or international funding possibilities (Apply for funding)

Second Year: Build Capacity

In the second year, you begin to pull together a number of major themes. You now have experience in a professional setting, practicing the skills and sensibilities you developed in your first two years. You should begin to integrate the academic insights borne from your major into your community engaged work. You should now have a depth of knowledge about an issue, population, or skill - as you have been working to cultivate this for two years. You will also have a more firm understanding of the site where you have worked, and its place within the broader social structure of nonprofit and government agencies. Additionally, by the start of the second year in the program, our hope is that you have come to understand what you might be able to do within the site where you work that can leave a lasting positive impact. The second year is all about planning and implementing a capstone project, signature work that will leave a lasting impact on the site where you work and which should be a starting place for the endeavors you will pursue in your postgraduate life. This document outlines the different kinds of capacity building projects by type that have been carried out across the country in Bonner schools throughout the network. Building capacity means the work you initiate can continue after you leave: the work is not dependent on you because your contribution will last after you are gone.

Planning such a project takes time, which is why we begin thinking about how to do this in the first year. By the start of your third year, you should have some ideas about what kind of project you'd like to undertake. You should be in constant conversation with Bonner staff in the CCE about your project, and before the end of the first semester in your junior year you should submit a project proposal. This proposal should be co-created with your site supervisor. By the beginning of the spring, you should begin your project. If you are abroad, you should plan to launch your project in the Fall of your senior year.

Your on-campus role in the Bonner Fellowship also shifts in the second year in the program. You will be seen by younger Bonners as an example. Beyond just showing up, active participation in all-Bonner meetings and Bonner retreats becomes critical, as these are the spaces where you can interact with and become a co-educator for Bonners in their sophomore year. You will also meet with your fellow junior cohort once per block.

Finally, we actively encourage Bonners to study abroad during their junior year. It's important to communicate early and often with CCE Staff about your study abroad plans to ensure that you integrate community engagement into your study abroad program. If you are studying abroad in the third year, you will have completed a plan to ensure you continue your community engagement while abroad before the end of the second year.

Second Year Primary Experiential Learning Goals:
  • Shift from adding capacity to building capacity
  • Organize other students for off-campus community engagement
  • Begin to bring academic insight to bear on your community work in preparation for postgraduate opportunities
Second Year Overview
  • Ongoing: CCE Changemaker Curriculum blockly workshops, All Bonner meetings, Reflection Groups, Issue-Based Coalitions, independent community engagement
  • Fall: Bonner Leadership Team (BLT) applications open, CLA, join issue-based coalition meetings
  • Spring: Co-op intern applications open, capstone process proposal process, CLA for next year
  • Summer: Local or international funding possibilities (Apply for funding)

Third Year: Integrate Academic and Community Work

The third year in the program is all about integration: the goal is to make sense of the work you have done in the community, on campus, and in the classroom. If you haven't completed your capstone project before the start of the senior year, it should be completed no later than December of the senior year.

Having completed your capstone, you should begin to focus on how the work will be continued after you leave. This could include developing a plan with your community partner, recruiting additional students to help at your site, holding info sessions about the work of the site at CC and engaging in other public awareness campaigns. The key is to engage actively with your community partner in your senior year to begin the process of transitioning out of your role in a way that creates minimal disruption to the ongoing work of your community partner site.

During the first four blocks of your senior year, we encourage you to actively apply for postgraduate opportunities - some of which are available to you simply because you are a Colorado College student. Please review this list for more information on these opportunities. While not required, completing post-graduate applications are an excellent way to synthesize your experiences on campus and in the community for the purpose of finding the next step to gain experience and build skills. Post-graduate fellowships like the Watson Fellowship, the Fulbright, or the Peace Corps are often great ways to continue personal discernment and skill development.

We also encourage you to pursue employment applications or graduate school applications, as these are also an excellent way to articulate how you have integrated your academic work and community engagement.

This process of integrating your academic work is important for applications to graduate school, but we also strongly encourage you to review the host of postgraduate opportunities and fellowships available to you outside of traditional graduate programs. As noted above, in the fall of the senior year, you should also focus on leadership transition from the many roles you have come to occupy on campus and in the community. The process of effectively transitioning leadership is very important. CCE staff will help you by assisting you in developing the tools needed to succeed in this process, including developing transition documents and creating an onboarding or orientation for the students who will follow in your footsteps. This process, sometimes called succession planning, is a critical skill to develop as an undergraduate as you will likely utilize this throughout your career. In the second semester of the senior year, you should focus on preparing and delivering the Senior Presentation of Learning. Particular attention should be given to explaining how your academic work influenced your community work, and how your community work influenced your academic work. This process of 'integrating' often distinct aspects of your college experience is explained in detail in this worksheet from the American Association of Colleges and Universities. A draft of the senior presentation of learning should be submitted to CCE Staff no later than December of the student's senior year.

Third Year Primary Experiential Learning Goals:
  • Integrating academic and community work
  • Competing for postgraduate opportunities
  • Succession planning
  • Articulating your story
Third Year Overview
  • Ongoing: CCE Changemaker Curriculum blockly workshops, All Bonner meetings, Reflection Groups, Issue-Based Coalitions, community-engaged capstone projects (virtual during the pandemic)
  • Fall: Bonner Leadership Team (BLT) applications open, CLA, join issue-based coalition(s)
  • Spring: Capstone Presentations, Graduation!!


Summer Fellowships

If you are interested in a summer internship and would like to stay in-the-loop on funding developments, please email

In the Summer of 2020, the CCE had five paid, full time summer fellowships available for students. Four were domestic, and students could receive $4000 for at least 8 weeks of full time work.

Full time summers of community engagement are critical to your development as a Bonner Fellow. They give you a glimpse into what it is like to work full-time with an organization on an issue, and offer extremely valuable personal and professional experience. We recommend that you spend the summers that you have in the Bonner Fellowship working full time with a nonprofit or government agency on something you care about.

In the summer before you enter the Bonner Fellowship, it can be important to think about your first year at CC and your experience with community engagement thus far. Take stock of your experience and consider the following questions:

  • What worked well for me this year in terms of establishing a social network at CC?
  • What did I enjoy doing academically?
  • What was I good at academically?
  • What community engagement experiences were meaningful to me, and why?
  • What community engagement experiences didn't prove meaningful to me, and why?
  • What kind of trajectory might I envision for myself?
  • What classes do I need to take to achieve this trajectory?
  • What kind of community engagement experience do I need to achieve this trajectory?
  • Did I find someone(s) who could be a mentor for me?

The summer after your first year in the program is an ideal time to complete a full-time summer of engagement. Consider continuing your work with the organization(s) you chose to work with throughout your first year, or consider working on the same issue at a different site in your hometown, if not in Colorado Springs. Consider also how you might expand your perspective on the issue on which you are focused by spending the academic year working in Colorado Springs, the first summer at a different domestic site, and then sharpening your experience by spending your second summer abroad. There are many possibilities if you develop a trajectory for yourself, make a plan, and communicate actively with CCE staff to bring that plan to reality. Keep in mind you have additional opportunities available to you to earn money working on something you care about through the CCE, and through other related programs like the Public Interest Fellowship Program, if you decide not to go the route of a full-time summer of engagement. The key is planning in advance and constant communication with CCE Staff.

The second summer is an excellent time to complete a summer of community engagement abroad. It's possible that you could continue your time abroad after completing blocks or a semester abroad in the junior year. Or, if you have not had a chance to study abroad during the academic year, the third summer could be the ideal time for you to spend at least two months working with a partner and issue of your choosing. The key is understanding how this experience fits into your trajectory, making a plan with CCE staff early on, and putting forward a competitive application to spend your summer abroad in the time between your junior and senior years.

Summer of Engagement Fellowship Eligibility and Requirements:
  • Domestic: A Bonner Fellow in any class
  • International: Preference given to Bonner students who have already demonstrated independence and ability to be self-directed through study abroad and/or Venture Grant and international internship experiences
  • Complete the funding application on Summit before the end of Block 6
  • Research and/or apply to other CC grants (i.e. Venture Grant, Career Center Internship Grant)
  • For selected students, check-in with the Bonner Summer Intern(s) every 2 weeks
  • For selected students, either write 2 reflections (one halfway through the internship, and another at the end) or create a project (like a blog, video documentary, etc). The purpose is to practice sharing your experience and reflecting, and to keep us updated on the amazing work you are doing!
Requests for summer funding will be reviewed based upon the following:


  1. Student learning and impact - skill-based application, professional experience, interpersonal work
  2. Community impact and sustainability
  3. Integration with academics, fellowship, and profession
  4. The extent to which the funding is needed and impactful
  5. Eligibility: Students must have good standing in the program
  • Longer-duration internships (higher community and student impact)
  • Applicant year in the program (prioritization for older students)


By the time you graduate, if you completed two summers of community engagement and all of your hours throughout the three years you spent in the Bonner Fellowship, you will have accumulated around 3/4 of a year of full-time work experience in addition to graduating with your bachelor's degree. Be proud and celebrate! And as you look back, we hope you will see the Bonner Program as an opportunity that allowed you to advance your leadership skills for the purpose of serving the public good. And remember: we selected you to participate in the program because of your potential to be an outstanding civic leader - not because we expected that you were that already. This remains true even after you graduate. We are all works in progress, all of us in the process of becoming. Being an effective leader requires patience with yourself, it requires caring for yourself, it requires protecting your joy and paying attention to your energy levels. Community includes you!

Making it to graduation means you have likely found ways to take care of yourself, to prepare yourself to do this work for the long haul. You made it to Colorado College, you made it into the Bonner program, and you have now made it through CC and the Bonner program. We hope you have built trust in yourself, built trust with other Bonners in your cohort as well as older students in the program, and built strong relationships of trust with CCE staff. These people will be here for you throughout your life.

Building and maintaining these relationships, like taking care of yourself, is a daily task. It requires work hour by hour with your chosen partner organizations, day after day in the community, block after block in the classroom, and year after year in this program. We hope you will take what you learned in this program about making a difference, about taking good care of yourself, about building strong relationships with other students and staff and move out into the world to be a changemaker for life. The skills you developed led not only to success as an undergraduate in the Bonner Program; we believe they will help you succeed in the world.


Report an issue - Last updated: 08/05/2021