Strengthening Campus-Wide Centers

Strategy  •  Background  •  Next Steps  •  Available Resources


While the Bonner Program is best known for its focus on students, we work closely with colleges and universities in our network to help them build the internal capacity for broader and deeper engagement on campus.  Dedicated staff and students and faculty working through these centers can take the lead in developing and integrating community engaged learning courses and programs campus-wide.

The Foundation provides a number of important supports for campuses in its network with center development and management. These include:

  • Share models: Participation in the Bonner network provides campus staff with access to examples and models for center organization, staffing structures, mission statements, and program models.
  • Professional development: The Bonner network convenes staff, student leaders, and faculty at a series of annual meetings each year, as well as for special initiatives.
  • Program planning: Foundation staff make visits to assist with Bonner Program start-up, growth, and management. Many campuses often take elements of the Bonner model to shape other new programs across departments.
  • Strategic planning: Foundation staff work with campus staff to facilitate the creation of 3-5 year written strategic plans for centers and their roles on campus and within the community. 

Connection to Community Impact

Because the Bonner Program supports students to engage in community service of is to eight hours per week foster throughout the school year, their consistent presence helps develop community partnerships that are reliable and at a high level.  In this and other ways, the Bonner Program provides an internal model for place-based community engagement that is deep, pervasive, integrated, and developmental.  

Connection to Student Impact

  Electronic newsletter from Bonner Center for Service Learning & Civic Engagement at Carson-Newman University.   Click  to view.

Electronic newsletter from Bonner Center for Service Learning & Civic Engagement at Carson-Newman University.  Click to view.

Student leadership, voice, and engagement lies at the core of the Bonner Program and Bonner Foundation's philosophy.  The Bonner Program recruits, develops, and supports a powerful cohort of engaged student leaders who can help build a campus-wide culture and infrastructure for community engagement.  Bonner student leaders often serve as a catalyst for broader and deeper campus engagement.  They often become service leaders on campus who recruit and support other students in service placements and projects, thus helping ensure that it is reciprocal, mutually beneficial, and responsible.

Connection to Campus Impact

While the Bonner Program began as a co-curricular program, increasingly schools are developing strategies for engaging Bonners and other students in integrated curricular and co-curricular pathways.  The Bonner Program’s four-year development model and the positive outcomes, both in Bonner students and in the community partnerships, have helped inspire and inform the development of these formal pathways that take the form of majors, minors, concentrations, or certificates.


Since the 1980s, student engagement in service has increased, according to a variety of sources like the annual HERI survey of students and the National Inventory of Institutional Infrastructure for Community Engagement (NIIICE).  This increase in student engagement has been supported by and has inspired the growth in campus-wide centers or offices for community engagement.

For most institutions, this work involves building a center or office with dedicated staffing. Centers play important roles including:

  • Building and managing student programs and student leadership;
  • Building and sustaining relationships with community partners;
  • Providing funding and resources for projects;
  • Engaging faculty through course connections, research, and projects;
  • Providing training and reflection for students, faculty, and volunteers;
  • Managing transportation, liability, and other project concerns; and,
  • Tracking campus engagement and its impact.

Available Resources

See the Bonner Wiki for additional resources on a range of related topics: