The Bonner Fellowship
The Bonner Fellowship is a four-year program designed to help develop student leaders who seek to transform their communities and our world. Bonner Fellows are advocates on their campus and in the community. They develop knowledge of pressing issues facing our society, and they build experience by working directly on these problems with community partners. Bonners are engaged in community work throughout the duration of their college career, committing to at least 24 hours per block at community sites identified by the Collaborative for Community Engagement (CCE). Bonner Fellows also meet weekly as a cohort to integrate their work in the community with their work in the classroom.
Bonners focus on a range of issues - from homelessness to accessibility to sustainability and civil rights. What do you care about? Do you want to change the world for the better - to learn the skills and techniques needed to be an effective changemaker?
Then the Bonner Fellowship is for you.
By 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. 85% of Bonners are pell-eligible, and Bonner prioritizes students of color and first generation college students. A paid community engagement experience, the Bonner Fellowship makes it possible for students from less privileged backgrounds to work in a sustained way on a community issue they care about.
Bonner Fellows participate in a curriculum of regular workshops, trainings, guest speakers, and discussions as part of their paid fellowship hours. These co-curricular training and enrichment exercises afford students the opportunity to identify, develop, and integrate personal identity with civic engagement passions, academic study, and career interest.
CCE staff encourage students to explore a variety of issues in their first year by participating in diverse forms of community work at select partner sites. CCE staff identify these community engagement opportunities for incoming first year Bonner Fellows.
In their second year, Bonners begin to explore a commitment to a community partner site by identifying ways to build the capacity of a community partner over time. In their third and fourth years, in addition to working closely with a single community partner, Bonners are expected to take on leadership roles on campus.
Applications are currently closed for the Bonner Fellowship.
What is the Bonner Fellowship?
The Bonner Fellowship offers a select group of incoming CC students a four-year opportunity to do sustained community work with community-based organizations in the Colorado Springs and Pikes Peak Region. CCE staff provide direct mentorship and support to Bonner Fellows, assisting in facilitating their personal and professional growth. Bonner Fellows also participate in one-hour, weekly cohort meetings. These learning sessions are oriented towards civic leadership skill development and skill-building in the nonprofit and public sectors. These workshops also deepened student knowledge around the social & environmental issues facing Colorado Springs and the Pikes Peak Region. This combination of community engagement and weekly meetings is a national model developed by the Bonner Foundation, a developmental model that supports Bonners in taking on increased responsibility year after year - both on campus and in the community.
What does the Bonner Fellowship include?
The Bonner Fellowship provides students a stipend to support their work in the community, enabling sustained community engaged work over all four years of a students experience. This sustained dedication leads Bonner Fellows to develop identify an issue area where they have significant passion and supports them in developing expertise in this issue area. Bonners work with community-based organizations 24 hours per block (between 6 and 8 hours per week), and they meet weekly as a class cohort in skill based trainings. Bonners also reflect on their experiences through writing on a blockly basis.
In short, Bonner Fellows commit to the following:
- A four year commitment to being part of the Bonner Program at Colorado College
- A Bonner orientation (August 31-September 2)
- Two all-Bonner retreats - one in the Fall and one in the Spring
- At least 24 hours of community work per block with community organizations (an average of 6-8 hours per week)
- Attendance at weekly Bonner meetings for community-building, discussion and reflection, learning, and skill-building
- Short (one half page to one page) written reflections submitted blockly
The Bonner Fellowship is a unique opportunity to develop and apply skills and knowledge in a sustained community engagement program designed to cultivate civic leadership. Bonner Fellows are expected to apply rigor and invest deeply in their community work - just as they rigorously approach and invest in their academic work. Students are also expected to work collaboratively and authentically with community partners and CCE staff, both seeking out and remaining open to ongoing guidance, support, feedback, and routine, close communication.
How Does Bonner Build Community?
The Bonner Fellowship helps students build a sense of community on campus by linking them together as a cohort, and by connecting them also to the larger group of Bonner Fellows on CC’s campus. The program brings Bonners together through orientation, retreats, as well as regular cohort meetings. These cohort meetings, in particular, provide space for Bonners to grow together as a group - learning from the experiences of one another. Cohort discussions introduce Bonner Fellows to a diverse array of experiences and perspectives and aid students in forming values and exploring positions on a host of issues. Bonner cohort meetings also deepen students’ understanding of the issues facing the Colorado Springs community and Pikes Peak region, build pre-professional skills, and encourage the integration of civic engagement passions with academic study and career interest.
Bonners are also encouraged to build community with student organizations, administrators, and faculty across the CC campus. Bonners are introduced to key campus contacts at Orientation - from the Director of the First Year Experience to the Director of the Wellness Center and Career Services - and they are supported in taking on campus leadership roles throughout their time at CC.
Bonner Fellows are also encouraged to participate in BreakOut’s Saturday Trips, direct service opportunities that are offered every Saturday from 8 am to noon. Block Break Trips are also a great way for Bonner Fellows to meet other CC students interested in community engagement. Block Break Trips are 4 day community engagement opportunities offered every block break at regional community partners sites across Colorado. Both Saturday Trips and Block Break trips are excellent, regular opportunities to engage in meaningful work with other CC students while also meeting your blockly hour requirement.
Bonners also in build community off campus through sustained work with community partners. Bonners will be introduced to select community leaders during their orientation and throughout first year programming, and Bonners will be provided a curated list of ongoing community engagement opportunities to explore in their first year. CCE staff encourage Bonners to explore a variety of community sites in their first year, and CCE staff assist Bonners in finding a long term community site where they can receive mentorship from a community partner and where they feel empowered to make an impact.
The Director of the Bonner Program also assists Bonner Fellows in becoming part of the vibrant community connected to the Collaborative for Community Engagement (CCE) at Colorado College. The Bonner Director assists Bonners in learning the fundamentals of social change work, facilitates discernment professional identity, and assists students in thinking through how their fellowship can be integrated into their academic work. Bonner Fellows are encouraged to communicate closely with the Bonner Director about any challenges they may face - on campus or in the community - and to work with the Bonner Director as well as other Bonners to continually improve the Bonner Fellowship experience at CC.
What is the Bonner Network?
Colorado College belongs to a vibrant, nationally recognized Bonner network of more than 60 participating colleges and universities ranging from Oberlin College to Brown University. The ‘Bonner model’ has emerged as a valuable resource for colleges seeking to create developmental pathways that enable students to integrate their coursework, research, service, internship experiences, and other opportunities into a community-engaged capstone project. The Bonner network includes local, national, and international non-profit organizations, 15,000 Bonner alumni, and professional staff and faculty from a host of backgrounds and disciplines. Bonner also hosts multiple national meetings each year, providing professional development and networking opportunities for Bonner Fellows. The Bonner network is vast, linking faculty, staff, students, and community partners who have extensive experience in community engagement on college campuses and come from diverse backgrounds.
How Does Bonner Work With the Block Plan?
Bonner allows students to plan their work schedules around their class commitments, asking only that students spend at least 24 hours per block with community-based organizations. It is up to individual students to determine when this work takes place. This flexibility allows students to plan their schedule based on their availability during that particular block.
By the spring of their first year, it is recommended that students commit at least 5 hours per week to one organization in meeting the 24 hour blockly expectation. The remaining hours may be scheduled according to the availability of students and opportunities available at community organizations.
As a Bonner Fellow, will I be committed to one organization for all four years, even if I decide I don’t want to work there anymore?
Colorado College’s Bonner model allows students to explore their interests by working at a variety of sites on a variety of issues in the first semester of their first-year. Through this experiential process, students decide which issues they are most passionate about working on - and are encouraged to begin thinking about a site where they want to focus their time as a Bonner at CC. In the spring semester of their first year, Bonner Fellows commit at least five hours to a single organization. Beginning in the second year - just as students commit to an academic major - Bonner Fellows are asked to commit to a year-long fellowship at an organization they choose after careful consultation with the Bonner Director. Bonners will have the option to remain at this site in their junior and senior years, but are also able to switch to a new organization in their junior or senior years.
However, Bonner Fellows are asked to commit to a single organization for at least a year at a time beginning in their second year. This model allows Bonners to transition to sites where their passions match community work and interests, but also allows enables organizations to plan to have the added capacity of a Bonner Fellow for a year at a time. The Bonner Program at Colorado College attempts to balance commitment to a community partner with student passion, student interest, and student ability.
Does my Bonner Fellowship account for my federal work study?
Yes. Your Bonner Fellowship stipend takes the place of your federal work study award. It is the same amount as a Federal Work Study award.
Will transportation to organizations be provided?
The CCE commits to providing transportation to organizations if students are unable to arrange their own transportation.
Transportation Options Include:
- Free public transportation via the bus system provided by Colorado College.
- A bikeshare program for students who need transportation for community work.
- Lyft/Uber gift cards provided by the CCE.
What does it mean to "Explore. Engage. Commit."?
Bonner encourages exploration of passions through working with community organizations on local community issues, helping students discern their sense of purpose and articulate how they want to engage in issues that matter to them. Students are able to cultivate knowledge and pursue areas of interest through small group meetings and discussions as well as through their experience in a community-based organization.
All programs through the CCE focus on the importance of learning about and engaging with the Colorado Springs community. Bonner allows students to discover first-hand what issues this community identifies as major concerns, and connects students to opportunities to address these issues. In doing so, the program hopes to develop the active citizenship skills of Bonners, expose students to multiple forms of community engagement, deepening the understanding Bonners have of democracy and social change, and providing students the opportunity to apply skills and knowledge to real-world, pressing social challenges.
The Bonner model also emphasizes commitment. Fellows commit to four years of work in the community, and in their second year they begin to identify a community partner that aligns with their student passion and interests. Bonner Fellows also commit to being active participants in small group work each week.