• If you are citizen of an European Union member nation, you may not use this service unless you are at least 16 years old.

  • You already know Dokkio is an AI-powered assistant to organize & manage your digital files & messages. Very soon, Dokkio will support Outlook as well as One Drive. Check it out today!


Community Partnerships - Goals and Framework

Page history last edited by Ariane Hoy 4 years, 4 months ago

Front Page / Bonner Program Resources / Community Partnerships / Goals and Framework 


Community Partnerships




Community Partnership Goals

For campus-community partnerships to make positive impact, as well as promote collaboration and equity, investments in well-developed community partnerships are critical. The Bonner Program promotes and supports meaningful, long-term service commitments to the partners and communities with which we work. This dedication to our partners promotes more significant change, extensive resource development, capacity building, and innovative problem solving in organizations and communities—and this level of commitment also allows for personal and professional growth for all those engaged in the process.  Each campus program develops a long-term approach, working with key local, national, and even international organizations year after year.  



Guiding Principles


  • 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. 


  • Developmental

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. 


  • Deep

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. 


  • Sustained 

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.


  • Democratic

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. 



Bonner Community Engagement Framework 

Bonner Programs strive to have deep, reciprocal relationships with their community partners that provide a spectrum of opportunities for volunteers at all levels. An ideal relationship would have a small group of Bonners and other campus volunteers simultaneously serving a site with different levels of responsibility according to their progress in the Student Development Model.  The Community Engagement chart below summarizes our approach. 



In this model, individual volunteers work in different capacities (as tutors, mentors, servers, health clinic specialists) in the Placement Model, but they can also be mutually responsible for building capacity of the organization through helping recruit other volunteers, coordinate projects, and even do planning in the Collaborative, Problem-Solving Model.  You can read more about the background on our approach here.


How does this translate into real service work for Bonners?  By the end of the first year (or semester), Bonners typically find a placement at the 'regular volunteer' level, meaning they carve out a role for several hours per week.  Most of the time, students are working in schools, in clinics, with youth programs, at agencies that serve the hungry and homeless, in parks, and so on.  At times, Bonners and other students might take roles as 'occasional volunteers,' which means they're involved in one-time or short-term service projects, such as a park clean-up, build, or other initiatives.  Over time—perhaps by the second or third year—a Bonner finds an issue, organization, and role she or he is committed to, and begins to take leadership.  The student might become a site leader, project coordinator, or branch out to create a new program area within the organization.  Finally, a student may take on a specialist role, often embraced as a member of the staff.  Here, the student might be carrying out research projects, program development, and even planning for the agency.


This approach also translates to a comprehensive notion of service, in which Bonner Scholars and Leaders can mentor, coach, teach, build, do research, and more.  The service path is connected to students' growth (the student development model).  For instance, a first year student explores serving in various agencies and schools and settles into working with third graders on math and science tutoring.  In the second year, the student stays in them, but are given more responsibilities with planning and leading math and science curricula.  By your third year, the teacher and principal asks the student to share your knowledge by also teaching other volunteers how to work well with students and share the curriculum across the school.  The student starts to get involved in other dimensions, like connecting the school with the national NASA curricula, and s/he links this work with their elementary education major and research projects.  In your final year, the student is not only helping to manage the school's volunteer program for math and science curricula, but s/he has helped write a grant for it to continue, and had created a family involvement strategy informed by the outcomes of a policy brief on the topic. S/he has connected this work to a final capstone and honors thesis. The diagram below gives an example of some of the various types of service projects that can happen developmentally over a students four years:





Capacity-Building Projects

The organizations, schools, agencies, and groups with which Bonners and other students work are often small, locally-run non-profits that really need the volunteers and other resources (like equipment, supplies, and funding). Students might find that their work is hindered by resource barriers, or even a sense of disorganization that results from crisis management.  As service work evolves, the student can also help the organization to better meet its mission and deliver what it needs to for those it serves. Bonner Programs—with multi-year volunteers—can forge a connection between the semester-long placements and an overarching strategy to build the capacity of the organization.  As students take on increasing responsibility—recruiting and coordinating other volunteers and projects, doing outreach and PR, carrying out community-based and policy research, writing new materials, raising money, and even doing strategic planning—students can contribute to the ability for the organization to carry out its mission effectively.  The five capacity building areas we focus on are:


1) Volunteer Management

2) Program Development and Training

3) Fundraising

4) Communication

5) Community-Based Research and PolicyOptions Research (i.e., Research on Evidence-Based Program Models and Public Policies)


In order to best leverage Bonners' work with a site, campus programs often begin to integrate a site-based or issue-based team model. This means that there are more than one volunteer at the organization, even if some are not in the Bonner Program.  The organization can count on getting Bonners and other regular volunteers each year, and this provides valuable staffing and human resources for its work.  Learn more about Capacity Building Positionsthe Site and Issue Team Model here.


As this happens, the campus also builds its capacity to better partner with and serve the organization. For example, a partner site hosts four Bonners throughout the year, hosts a campus-wide service event with 60 volunteers annually, has 12 other students serve at the agency as part of a service-learning course, and has a faculty member involved on its board and doing research that it needs.  On campus, all of this work is coordinated by the center(s) for community service, service-learning, civic engagement or whatever they may be called.  Over time, the campus and community solidify a long-term, multi-faceted relationship—with connections to many resources that the campus can bring.



Developmental Pathway for Students 

Bonner students spend more than 80% of the program engaged in community service, and the effectiveness of this work and experience is mostly related to the strength of the community partnerships. Every Bonner Scholar is involved in the equivalent of nearly a year of full-time community service work (more than 1,800 hours) throughout their undergraduate years; every Bonner Leader is similarly involved in 300 hours of service during any school year or summer, for at least two years, in addition to other service performed outside the Bonner Program.


Here is a graphic representation of the Bonner Development Progression as shown by the changes in student hour logs over their four years in the program.





Through collaboration with community-based agencies, such as nonprofit organizations and schools, Bonners provide valued and meaningful service and support to agencies and communities, address environmental concerns, provide needed social and human services, support the education of children and youth, and so on. Community service, through the part-time school year structure and full-time summer internships, is indeed the core of the Bonner Program. In keeping with our collective goal to effect positive and tangible change in the communities where we work, this Implementation Guide addresses some key elements of building and sustaining community partnerships.



Developmental Community Partnerships

For the purposes of the Bonner Scholars Program, “community service” is defined as service provided to individuals or communities to meet social, educational, or environmental needs. This service may be provided directly or indirectly through a student-initiated project or a project sponsored by a non-profit or government agency.


Since the Bonner Program rests on a commitment to meaningful, long-term service relationship to the partners and communities with which we work, the following is the developmental stages of establishing and maintaining partnerships.  Along side the a hallmarks, each stage includes the annual completion of the Opportunity Forms and Accomplishment Forms, and on-going support and management from professional staff and students. 


Level 1: Exploratory Partnerships

    • Discussion of the Bonner Developmental Model
    • Have few student volunteers (Bonners)
    • Exploratory/short-term academic or co-curricular projects
    • Clear understanding of mission, programs, and structure

Level 2: Emerging Partnerships

    • Clear partnership plan (ideally 3+ year commitment)
    • Agency working to develop team (at least three students) with developmentally distinct positions 
    • Clear liaison; regular communication; experimental faculty roles 

Level 3: Engaged Partnerships

    • Agency can count on an annual "team" (at least three students) with clear roles (direct and capacity building)
    • Ongoing connection to at least one faculty member (and course connections)
    • Co-Educator Roles of Partners in training students (course or meeting based); annual plan and evaluation

Level 4: Deep Partnership

    • Sustained Teams
    • Long-Range Campus-Community Partnerships (Multiyear)
    • Strategic Plan (or collective impact focus)
    • Ongoing academic community engagement and capacity building projects; partners as co-educators  


Process for Building and Managing Partnerships and Placing Students


In the next two sections, we provide guidance on a) building and managing community partnerships and b) managing student placements.  These are the day-to-day, month-to-month, semester-to-semester tasks that put into action the processes that we hope enable you to realize the goals and vision outlined above.