Since 2005, the Bonner Program has been a catalyst for student-led community transformation and social justice at Stetson University. Bonner students work with partners in our community in many ways, each intent on collectively and collaboratively solving problems in our community through service.
There are several reasons why the Bonner Program is both unique in the field of community service and meaningful for students: engagement, enrichment and education.
First, rather than serving in brief stints of volunteerism that lack context, Bonner students engage in long-term, relationship-based partnerships with local non-profit organizations. Through these partnerships, students become more than familiar faces that periodically visit a place to do service; instead, students become long-term partners with a community agency, and, using both the strengths of the student and the agency, work hand-in-hand to create solutions to their common problems.
Second, Bonner students participate in weekly training and enrichment activities, which develop their personal, leadership and service skills. These activities are tailored to the developmental needs of each student, so that students gain skills which can be applied to their service partnerships and life.
Third, in order to ensure that all students are able to participate in the program and receive a college education, every Bonner student receives a unique financial aid package, consisting of foundation and university-funded scholarships, work study awards, AmeriCorps stipends and grants.
Through engagement, enrichment, and education, the Bonner Program meets its vision of providing socially conscientious students who have fewer financial resources with an access to education in exchange for the opportunity to serve.
The Bonner Program is an interdisciplinary program. Bonner staff members are:
- Michael Zirken, Bonner Program Coordinator, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Savannah-Jane Griffin, Director of Community Engagement, email@example.com
- Kevin Winchell, Assistant Director of Community Engagement, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Gregory Sapp, Ph.D., professor of religious studies, email@example.com
There are six core values that guide a Bonner student's service:
- Community Building: Establish and sustain a vibrant community of place, personal relationships, and common interests.
- Civic Engagement: Participate intentionally as a citizen in the democratic process, actively engaging in public policy and direct service.
- Diversity: Respect the many different dimensions of diversity in our public lives.
- International Perspective: Develop international understanding that enables students to participate fully in a global society.
- Spiritual Exploration: Explore personal beliefs while respecting the spiritual practices of others.
- Social Justice: Advocate for fairness, impartiality, and equality while addressing systemic social and environmental issues.
Examples of Student Service
- Katie Dearing, '08, health science major: Combining her academic studies of health and wellness-related issues with her passion for working with children, Katie partnered with Children's House Montessori School to teach a course to elementary students that focused on nutrition and physical education.
- Sarah Edwards, '09, international business major: In her time at Stetson University, Sarah worked with the Boys and Girls Club of Spring Hill as the coordinator of a youth empowerment program, the Campaign for Adolescent and University Student Empowerment (C.A.U.S.E.). Upon graduation, Sarah continued to pursue this lifestyle of service by joining the Peace Corps. Through this opportunity, she now works on the development of youth programs in rural villages of Ecuador.
- Florencia Abelenda, '10, sociology major: Born in Argentina, Florencia has a passion for eliminating the educational and economic inequalities suffered by minorities - especially Latin-American immigrants - which led her to develop youth tutoring and empowerment programs at La Plaza Comunitaria, a local center for Mexican immigrants.
- Jack Kelly, '11, political science major: With a keen interest in politics and working through the government to enact social policy changes, Jack worked with Habitat for Humanity and the Humane Society to learn more about how current social policy is lacking so that he can later work with government to change the policies.
Each student at Stetson University completes general education requirements and follows a course of study determined by his or her major field of study. First-year Bonner students, in particular, are required to take a first year seminar course titled FSEM100: "Self and World." Upper-class Bonner students are strongly encouraged to take advanced-level service-learning courses and to work toward Stetson University's newly implemented Certificate of Civic Engagement.
Bonner Program Requirements
- Commitment to eight or more hours of community service per week.
- Commitment to two hours of training and enrichment activities per week
- Minimum 2.0 GPA each semester
- Attend orientation and the annual Bonner fall retreat
- Enrollment in first-year Bonner course (first semester, first year)
- Complete two "Summers of Service" (financial assistance available)
- Complete the "First Year Bonner Trip"
- Complete the "Sophomore Service Exchange"
- Complete the "Junior Leadership Experience"
- Complete the "Senior Capstone and Portfolio"
Stetson University maintains strong ties with local, non-profit agencies, including:
- Boys and Girls Club of America
- Chisholm Community Centers
- Easter Seals
- Haven Hospice
- Local Schools
- The United Way
- The YMCA