Page Settings

  • Show menu: true
  • Use horizontal menu: true
  • Show sidebar: no
  • Skip to main content

    Year 3: Capstone Project

    Think back to your second year.  The key learning goal was understanding the difference between adding capacity and building capacity, and putting this understanding into practice.  Throughout your first and second years, it’s likely that you added capacity to a site by offering your time and talent to projects that simply wouldn’t have been done without you, or by taking on a task at a site you free up full time staff to focus on other things. This could mean you personally tutored students after school, organized a team to do tutoring or mentoring, or perhaps hosted a volunteer orientation for your organization, thus freeing up staff to focus on planning and development projects.  In the third year, you want to move from adding capacity at a site towards a capstone project that, ideally, builds the capacity of a site.  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. 

    In the third 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 third year, 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 third 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. 

    In the third year, you are encouraged to renew your commitment to the site where you worked in your second year. The idea here is to make a lasting impact at a single site, to learn what it takes to build and cultivate relationships with community partners, and direct your work in a focused way to make a real difference within a single site or on a single issue. However, you have the choice of choosing a new primary site. But as with the second year, you must work for the full academic year at the site you have chosen, and you must work at least five hours per week.  You can work the full eight hours per week at your CLA site, weeks one through three, if you do not have another commitment. Remember, you are required to complete twenty four hours per block throughout your time as a Fellow at CC - 96 hours per semester and 192 total for the year.  

    These are all examples of adding capacity: using your time and talent to free up other staff to focus on other necessary work in always understaffed and under resourced nonprofit and government agencies.  You can review a comprehensive list of capacity building projects here.

    Building capacity is different.  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. Perhaps you develop a tutoring program after school, but you also write a grant to continue the program after you leave - or you identify a donor who would be interested in supporting the program in perpetuity. Or on a smaller level, perhaps you analyze the way volunteers are being recruited and managed at a site, and then develop and implement a plan for recruiting more volunteers and keeping them around longer. The key idea here is to think beyond the direct service you have provided to an organization, focusing more on systems level process - broader policies, procedures, funding structures, and overall capacity limitations of an organization to develop and implement a project geared at solving a larger problem that can have a long term benefit to the community or organization. This document offers examples of capacity building projects that students have completed across the Bonner network.

    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.

    You will meet once per block as a junior cohort in the program, and as with the second year, your active participation in all Bonner meetings and retreats is imperative. Younger Bonners will continue to look to you for guidance, advice, mentoring, and support.

    Your work at your primary site will also continue to be an internship that appears on your transcript.

    We also want you to facilitate at least one skill based workshop or reflective meeting on campus before the end of your third year. This can be either for the Bonner program or for another CCE group, program, or organization. You can also offer a meeting or workshop for another office on campus such as the Butler Center or Wellness Resource Center, or you can offer a meeting or training to a community group or organization. You should discuss your ideas for a skill based workshop or reflective meeting with Bonner staff in the CCE no later than Block 3 of the third year.

    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.

    Third Year Primary Experiential Learning Goals:

    • Shift from adding capacity to building capacity
    • Organize other students for off-campus community engagement
    • Facilitate trainings for other CC students 
    • Begin to bring academic insight to bear on your community work in preparation for postgraduate opportunities


    Major themes: Capacity building, signature work, peer leadership, facilitation skills, study abroad, post graduate opportunities

    Year 1: Exploration

    Year 2: Experience

    Year 3: Capacity-Building Project

    Year 4: Academic Integration