Guiding Principles for Community Partnerships


Asset Based

Rather than viewing neighborhoods and communities from a deficit point-of-view, we seek to identify and build upon the strengths and assets of each partner and community.  Students and others are trained in this orientation.

Place Based

We also believe in the importance of place – including listening to residents and leaders – and understanding the learning and meaning that is derived from engaging in a community.

Mutually Beneficial and Reciprocal 

Staff and students who build and manage Bonner Programs and Centers invest in building relationships that are intentional, aim to add value for each party, and demonstrate reciprocity. 


Just as our work with students is developmental, so too is our work on partnerships.  Programs and institutions acknowledge that it takes experience to build and sustain partnerships that can include students working at different levels, connections with faculty members and academic courses, and even long-range community impact goals. 


An aim is to have partners connected with multiple resources on campus, such as the involvement of long-term student volunteers, research projects, and even resource development. 


Because of the multi-year involvement of Bonner students and the establishment of campus infrastructure (such as staffing and centers) to manage partnerships and projects, partners can look for longer-term engagement by their partnering college or university.  This supports long-range visioning, planning, and even impact assessment.

Focus on Capacity Building 

We have adopted goals for building the capacity of organizations and communities, including strategies for direct service, volunteer management, program development, communications, organizational development, research, and assessment.

Partners as Co-Educators

We believe and intentionally engage partner staff as well as clients in co-educator roles, valuing their knowledge about their communities, issues, and approaches for change.


We seek to foster “democratic engagement,” meaning that all contributors are valued in helping to address issues (like education and hunger), create knowledge (through scholarship and action), and be a part of a larger eco-system of individuals and organizations working for a healthy and just society.