Bonner Scholars Program
Since 1993, Richmond's Bonner Scholars Program (BSP) has included approximately 100 scholars at any given time, making it the largest program in the national Bonner network. The BSP is a four-year commitment to sustained community engagement and social justice education. Typically, 25 students per class year are selected to be Bonner Scholars.
Bonner Scholars are individually matched with local nonprofit organizations in the second semester of their first year, after they have had an opportunity to identify social issues they want to further explore. Some examples include youth development, public health, refugee and immigration services, and community development. Bonner Scholars commit to ten hours per week of community engagement.
Training and Education
To complement direct service at community partner organizations, scholars attend training and educational opportunities on and off campus including lectures, workshops, and forums. In addition, all scholars take a course through the Jepson School of Leadership Studies, "Justice and Civil Society," during the second semester of their first year. The course explores the meaning and practice of justice in contemporary society.
Bonner Scholars who seek an opportunity to shape the Bonner Scholars Program (BSP) experience at the University of Richmond can apply for a position on the Student Leadership Team (SLT). All Bonner Scholars are eligible to apply for the SLT, and if elected, serve a one-year term. The application process and selection take place each fall semester.
The SLT supports the work of the BSP staff in planning projects, facilitating community building, decision-making, and interacting with the national Bonner network by fulfilling one of the following three positions:
Two representatives per class plan the cornerstone activity for their class, which can be an educational or service trip, service exchange with other Bonner schools in the region or capstone presentations, depending on the class year.
Working with the national Bonner network, two congress representatives are responsible for implementing national initiatives on campus. In addition to their work on one major project per year, congress representatives meet twice annually with their national cohorts.
The number of senior interns varies, as do their responsibilities. Activities can include planning the monthly BSP meeting, recruiting speakers for BSP events, and serving as orientation advisors for new Bonner Scholars, among other projects.
The Bonner Scholars Program (BSP) application process occurs concurrently with the undergraduate admissions process.
The Bonner Scholar Program application for incoming students is open and will close on April 30, 2014.
Any prospective student can apply to be a Bonner Scholar regardless of merit or demonstrated need. Applicants who demonstrate a strong commitment to community will stand out. That commitment will vary from one context to another; it could mean a long-term volunteer position or job experience, but isn't necessarily expressed in terms of hours of service.
Applicants who would like to be considered for a need-based scholarship should fill out the University of Richmond financial aid application by the stipulated deadline.
From their first moments on campus, Bonner Scholars become part of a community that will provide social and logistical support throughout their college years. As part of this community, Bonner Scholars receive:
- A way to engage with the Greater Richmond community and the global community
- Support and resources from the CCE that enable deep engagement with social issues
- Leadership skills that apply to a range of campus activities and community organizations
- Financial stability, as scholars can use stipend funding to cover their needs, including books and tuition
- A network of friends through service
Bonner Scholars receive a financial award of $2,500 per academic year that is renewable for eight semesters of full-time undergraduate study. Over their undergraduate careers, students may receive up to $5,500 in support of summer community involvement. In addition, alumni may be eligible for a limited loan reduction program of up to $2,000.
Approximately 20 Richmond-area organizations partner with the Bonner Scholars Program (BSP) at the University of Richmond. BSP partners are committed to sustained and meaningful community engagement.
Being a BSP partner means agreeing to host the same student(s) for multiple years. The BSP staff works with partners to help steer student learning so that Scholars take on increasing responsibility through their engagement.
Reciprocal impact is a hallmark of the BSP partnership—students embrace new learning opportunities while helping organizations to further their goals. Through consistent volunteerism, students become advocates and allies of the organization.
In addition, BSP partners are part of the educational effort on campus. BSP often asks its partners to share their expertise on specific social issues with Bonner Scholars and other University students at lectures and workshops.
Our current partners include:
- Art 180
- Boaz & Ruth
- Bonner Center for Civic Engagement
- Church Hill Activities and Tutoring (CHAT)
- City of Richmond Neighbor-to-Neighbor Initiative
- City of Richmond Office of Multicultural Affairs
- Commonwealth Catholic Charities
- CrossOver Clinic
- Greater Richmond Stop Child Abuse Now (SCAN)
- Henderson Middle School
- James River Park System
- Overby-Sheppard Elementary School
- Richmond City Health District
- Salvation Army
- St. Andrew's School
- Tuckahoe Volunteer Rescue Squad
- University of Richmond Downtown (URD)
- Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities
- Virginia Supportive Housing
- William Byrd Community House
- World Pediatric Project
- Youth Life Delmont Learning Center
- Youth Life Highland Park Learning Center
Organizations have the opportunity to host a Bonner Scholar during the summer. Check with the national network's Bonner Partners Program for information on providing a summer learning experience.
Greater Richmond nonprofits and NGOs have the opportunity to host UR Bonner Scholars during the academic year. Check with the BSP staff for more information.
Students outside of our program are still encouraged to connect with our partners. Check with the BSP staff for more information.
The University of Richmond's Bonner Scholars Program (BSP) has more than 375 alumni who have gone on to enjoy careers in everything from the Peace Corps and Teach for America to careers in banking and fashion. Many continue their commitment to community engagement through their academic and business careers, as well as their personal pursuits.
Alumni are encouraged to stay connected to the BSP and the Bonner Center for Civic Engagement and should keep their information up-to-date with the University's Office of Alumni Relations.
BSP alumni have seven years to claim loan reduction funds. Alumni who have questions about the amount and the claim process should contact the BSP staff.