Fall 2017 Bonner Congress Meeting

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The 2017 Bonner Congress Meeting was hosted at Siena College in Albany, NY. The meeting revolved around the theme of "Peace and All Good," a Franciscan greeting widely used at Siena to symbolize community, harmony, and good will towards one another.

Approximately 200 students gathered over the weekend of October 6-8, 2017 to discuss their interpretation of the theme, build their ideas to bring them into action, connect with Bonners across the network, hear from Bonner alumni, and engage in workshops and social activities together.

All Group Sessions

Your Perspectives on the Role and Value of a College Education

What should be the priorities of American colleges and universities? Should our institutions prepare us for today's job market, to be effective leaders and contributors to society, or to drive social and economic opportunities in the community? Adapted from the National Issues Forum, this session on the "Changing World of Work: What Should We Ask of Higher Education" brought students together to dialogue across difference, understand each others' perspectives, learn a model deliberative dialogue to take back to their campus.

Ideas to Action

Each campus team came to Bonner Congress with an idea that fell into one of six project categories: 

  1. Build more deliberative dialogue on diversity and inclusion

  2. Create a workshop series or course on social action and community organizing

  3. Cultivate care for yourself and build community in your Bonner Program

  4. Develop processes and supports for community-engaged senior capstone projects

  5. Mobilize student leaders to boost campus-wide engagement

  6. Start up your Bonner program.

While at Congress, teams gathered to complete an Idea Profile for their project, which included refining their project goal and strategy, as well as develop a realistic action plan. Throughout the entire Ideas to Action process, Congress reps had the opportunity to learn from each other through feedback and collaboration, following the 2017 Ideas to Action Planning Guide.

Elective Workshops

#StoriesThroughSocialStrategies led by Jasmine Rangel of the Bonner Foundation

Social Media has become one of the most cost-effective and manageable tools to spread information, propel some of the most notable movements in the last 10 years, and share your story. In the nonprofit world, social media provides an unending amount of marketing opportunities to further the success of a mission. This workshop will aid participants in maximizing their online communication and engagement strategies to better share their story with their community and beyond.

AmeriCorps VISTA: Building Your Future through Service led by Laura Mateya of Siena College ACE

AmeriCorps VISTA is a national service program in which college graduates can build their professional skills and personal goals while making an impact in the community on issues such as homelessness, food security, policy, education, and more. Come learn how you can share your passion, gain professional work experience, and fight for a more socially just world, while earning money toward grad school!

An Introduction and Discussion of Wellness led by Hunter Malone of Berea College and and Ariane Hoy of the Bonner Foundation

This workshop will provide an opportunity to focus on and discuss the concepts of wellness and well-being and their importance to Bonner Scholars and Leaders and the Bonner Program. During this session, participants will reflect on what makes up wellness – including the notion of mental health, physical health, thriving, and resilience – and also talk about some of the challenges (like stress and depression). Then, we'll have a chance to identify and discuss what campus resources students (as well as staff and faculty) can access to support their own wellness and that of their peers and colleagues. As Bonner Congress representatives and leaders, we will discuss what we can do to promote wellness in our programs.

Bonner-Campus Integration led by Chantel Baker and Dominque Cressler of the University of Richmond


It is always critical that the Bonner Scholars Program of any university doesn’t operate inside of a bubble within their school’s larger volunteering community. Regardless of someone’s status as a Bonner or not, everyone brings valued perspectives to the issues we are facing today. Thus, we encourage the participants of this workshop to work openly and honestly with each other to look for areas of improvements and create action plans to further integrating Bonners more within their larger school community.

Bonner Love: Fostering the Bonner Community led by Adam Cooper and Belle Briatico from the Stetson University, and Caroline Mousa and Trinity Rinear from the University of Houston

Through collaboration between the University of Houston, the Bonner Advisory Board, and Stetson University student leadership, this workshop presents a look into what bonds Bonners together and how to create a strong community and culture of love within your program, amongst students of different classes and who serve at different community partners. Building a sense of community within Bonner programs leads to greater dedication to those programs as a whole and to individual service sites, increasing the quality and success of the service performed. Bonding events described in this workshop will include orientation activities, group service opportunities, mentorship programs, and immersion into the Bonner community as well as the host city’s community. This will be a fun, participatory workshop where people can come together and share the customs, traditions, and commonalities that bring their program together and will allow for inter-program growth.

Care About Poverty and Inequality? Then Let's Talk Taxes led by Kristy Martino of RESULTS

Upcoming battles around tax reform are hugely important for those who care about wealth inequality and closing the racial wealth gap. And they are key for protecting basic health and nutrition programs — policymakers may try again to “pay for” massive tax breaks for wealthy millionaires with deep cuts to Medicaid and also SNAP. How we fund health and nutrition programs, protect and expand tax credits for low-income workers, and reduce wealth inequality all depend on how the tax code is written or rewritten.

Faith and Me: Unpacking Different Beliefs and Understandings / Baneen Al-Akashi / Allegheny College and The Bonner Foundation

Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, New Age, and Buddhism are the most common religions that are practiced around the world. However, not everyone understands these religions and the faiths and traditions that come with them. In this workshop, participants will tackle the issue of self and spiritual exploration, a Bonner Common Commitment, in a unique way. Establishing safe space guidelines, participants will be challenged through a series of questions to think about and reflect upon their beliefs. Participants will then break into groups and be tasked on becoming experts on one of six religions presented. After participants will be introduced to important people who were empowered by their faith to take action towards social justice. Participants will end with a discussion/reflection on the knowledge gained from the workshop.

Leaving a Legacy: The Bonner Senior Capstone / Ariane Hoy, Kelly Finn, Ruth Kassel / The Bonner Foundation, Siena ACE

Are you working on a senior capstone project that brings together your Bonner work with your academic study and learning? Do you want to? In this workshop, students will be exposed to examples of inspiring student capstone projects that have been done by Bonners in their senior year. These projects often combined students' insights from their service journeys with opportunities to do a significant research project, develop a program, work on policy, or otherwise complete a project that benefitted the community. Often, students have got credit for this too and have presented their culminating work to the broader campus. Come explore what this looks like and also learn about some of the ways that students and campuses have made it happen (such as through courses, independent study, finding a faculty advisor, etc.). This workshop will share some models but also be a place where students can discuss the idea and brainstorm strategies for themselves (or for their Bonner Programs). 

The Art and Agency of Storytelling in Advocacy led by Kristy Martino of RESULTS

We all have a story to tell. Can a story change policy? Yes! In this workshop, we’ll explore tools that help us define and develop our own stories. We’ll explore storytelling techniques that can be used to motivate and educate any audience. There will be plenty of opportunities to share and become inspired to take your story to the next level.

Unpacking the -Ism's: Common Terms to Talk about Social Justice and Oppression led by Hunter Malone of Berea College and the Bonner Foundation

This training will unpack a concept called the -Ism’s, a common expression for various forms of social oppression and/or social injustice. Specifically, this training focuses on an introductory discussion of racism, sexism, nationalism, heterosexism, ableism, and classism. These six -Ism’s fit with the Dialogue Across Diversity and Inclusion model and represent the eight common categories of diversity explored through this curriculum and often found in the campus and community contexts. This training does not include an exhaustive list of the Ism’s. Rather, it only serves as a guide for some common terms to discuss. Please add on any other terms you feel would be helpful or relevant to your community.

You Did What in College? Using your Community Engaged Experience for Professional and Personal Success led by Allison Schultz and Kelly Phillips of Siena College ACE

Have you ever had trouble articulating how your service work translates into skills that employers or graduate schools are looking for? Do you have trouble explaining how you have developed in your role as a community engaged professional? Join Bonner Alum Kelly Phillips and Director of Programs at ACE Allison Schultz to explore how you can leverage the skills and competencies that you developed in your community engagement experiences to market your experiences, skills, and leadership abilities with confidence.

You're Hired! How to Leverage Your Community Service Experience to Land Your Dream Job / Kayla Anderson / The Fund for American Studies

Did you know your service work is also valuable professional experience? Learn how to identify, convey and leverage your experience to help you bridge the gap from college to career. This session will offer tips for identifying and conveying your unique skills to employers through your application and in interviews. Also included is how to leverage those opportunities you secure through tools like informational interviews, so that you can build upon your experiences and continue to expand your professional network. 

Innovative Community Partner-Centered Service led by Trinity Rinear and Caroline Mousa of the University of Houston

By developing innovative service projects in response to needs expressed by established community partners, UH Bonners develop a range of entrepreneurial, organizational, and leadership skills, while providing high quality, impactful service. This workshop describes how the UH Bonner Program operates within the context of community partner based service, how those service relationships are formed, sustained, and expanded, and how these student-developed projects revolutionize service in the community. Additionally, we will describe training and enrichment activities that prepare Bonners for their community partner-centered service as well as for their future endeavors in the university and beyond.