Training, Education & Reflection


Because the Bonner Program model links participating students’ work expectation to their financial aid package, Bonners are able to engage in 10 hours of service per week throughout the school year.  Approximately 20% of that time (roughly 50 hours per year) is dedicated to education, training, and reflection.  

Presentation on Bonner four-year student development model and curriculum.

The time spent in training, education, and reflection is a powerful engine for the growth of Bonners over their four years in the program.  In fact, our Bonner Student Impact and Alumni Surveys tell us that the strongest elements of the Bonner Program for students are opportunities for dialogue across differences, mentor relationships, and structured reflection that complements and magnifies unstructured reflection.  All of these activities and more take place during regularly scheduled Bonner Program meetings. By strategically building in meetings within the Bonner Student Development framework, these meetings enhance students' skills, encourage a sense of belonging, promote accountability, foster campus-wide and community connections, and lead to high levels of retention and graduation. 

Each campus designs their own education, training, and reflection calendar based on the four-year Bonner Student Development Model and the related learning outcomes.  These meetings provide a sequenced, progressive exploration of the skills, knowledge, values, and competencies needed for Bonner service work in local communities and beyond.  Bonner staff and student leaders collaborate to develop and facilitate a regular series of meetings, retreats, and speakers that also bring in other campus staff, faculty, and community partner staff to lead sessions.

To support campuses, the Bonner Foundation has compiled a series of guides and an extensive collection of training modules to support this process.  The training modules are fully developed lesson plans for use in meetings, retreats, and even classroom settings. The training activities are built around the principles of active learning, often engaging participants through dialogue, problem-solving, case studies, scenarios, and project work. Developed initially in partnership with COOL (Campus Outreach Opportunity League), these training modules have been augmented to address the 27 Bonner skills and six Bonner Common Commitments

You can access our collection of training modules and view the recommended four-year training calendar, as well as examples of Bonner programs’ training calendars.



Campuses bring their Bonners together for an extended orientation before the school year starts, for weekly class and issue or site-based team meetings, and for periodic retreats or service trips or exchanges with other campuses in the Bonner Network.  Some programs are able to link these meetings to course credit. 

Sample semester calendar of Bonner meetings.  Click to enlarge.

These regular meetings are a key part of the communication, enrichment, and training for Bonners. Meetings can range from two people getting together to plan a project to an entire Bonner "family" group at a campus attending a training session led by an outside facilitator. Although special projects will require special meetings, Bonner Programs have standard meeting times and locations scheduled in advance for effective operation of the Program. 

Bonner programs use a wide range of meeting types to achieve desired learning outcomes, support student development, track service project management, and build a sense community among the Bonners. Following are examples of different types of meetings that are integrated within the Bonner Program:


One-on-one meetings between a Bonner Program Staff Member and each Bonner student occur at least once per semester. More than a casual conversation, this meeting is planned in advance; the staff person creates a framework to guide the conversation and reflection during the one-on-one. Typically, the one-on-one meetings provide an opportunity to discuss the student’s service placement, their goals and objectives for the placement and their personal development, and to reflect on progress toward meeting these goals. One-on-one meetings also provide campus staff members an opportunity to develop and apply his or her skills in coaching, advising, and guidance.


Class meetings provide opportunities for structured enrichment, training, reflection, program planning, and discussion with Bonners who are part of the same graduation cohort. Because most campuses have about 10-15 members in each cohort, class meetings are effectively small in size. Usually held every other week during the school year, class meetings provide a sense of consistent and ongoing peer and staff interaction and support. Bonner Program campus-based staff have found that class meetings are excellent forums for engaging students in structured enrichment, training, and reflection activities designed to support student growth in alignment with the developmental model.  


All-Bonner meetings are important for building the identity and community among Bonner students on each campus. Generally held at least once a month for large programs and every other week for smaller programs, the All-Bonner meetings are a great forum to build, celebrate, recognize, and deepen the Bonner campus community. Such meetings work best when they combine a mix of Bonner Program updates, a training or enrichment opportunity, celebration of achievements, and time for reflection.


Issue or site-based team meetings are designated for Bonner students who are serving together at the same community partner. These meetings support participation, planning, and reflection while including knowledge or skill-oriented trainings based on the specific needs of the service site. Issue or site-based team meetings can be led by a student leader selected to be the Site Team Leader. Depending on the needs of the team, ideally these meetings follow a consistent meeting schedule.


Program-specific meetings are developed to meet the demands of planning and implementation of Cornerstone Projects or events. These meetings are comprised of students who are participating in the planning of events such as the Bonner Orientation, First Year Trip, Second Year Exchange, Bonner Interview Day, or other Campus-Wide Service Events.


Throughout the academic year, there are often speakers, events, or professional development workshops offered to the campus community that may also serve as training opportunities for Bonner students. Prior to an event being held, the enrichment event should be approved and promoted for this purpose by the Bonner Staff, especially if an event connects to the Bonner Common Commitments, Bonner skills and/or knowledge areas. Some campuses ask for a written reflection after a student attends an enrichment opportunity or require a follow-up reflective dialogue.