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Bonner Community-Engaged Learning Initiative

Page history last edited by Rachayita Shah 1 year, 1 month ago


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Bonner Community-Engaged Learning Initiative

Overview  |  Guides  |  Campus Examples  |  Documents to Download



In 2019-2020, the Bonner Foundation launched its newest Community-Engaged Learning Initiative, through which it is continuing to support the integration of community-engaged learning and deep, reciprocal community-engaged projects across the institution. This work builds on previous strategic initiatives, including efforts to seed community-based research, promote the development of minors and certificates, link high-impact teaching and learning with community engagement, and integrate students’ culminating capstones with community engaged projects. These include the funded Learn & Serve CBR grants, 2004-2008 FIPSE funded initiative that resulted in the development of civic engagement minors at 15 institutions and promoted a model nationally through Civic Engagement at the Center (2008); the 2011-2014 High-Impact Initiative; and the 2015 to current efforts to develop Community-Engaged Signature Work through capacity-building capstones.


Goals and Strategy


This initiative, open to all colleges and universities in the Bonner Network, will support the advancement of community engaged learning across the curriculum at institutions within the Bonner Network. It aims to serve as a national model and cultivate an expanded national community of practice for CEL involving staff, faculty, student leaders, and community partners. The CEL Initiative will engage faculty as allies in broader efforts to integrate community engagement in courses and to shift culture and policies to sustain this work. The design is informed by the current context of the field, recognizing that there are strategies to erode existing institutional barriers to community engagement. The CEL Initiative will also promotes best practices, including deep reciprocal community partnerships and affirming the leadership of staff, community partners, and students with faculty as valued colleagues in community engagement initiatives.


Over this year and beyond, colleges and universities in the Bonner Network will build campus communities of practice. At the same time, the Bonner Foundation will expand its national community of practice to involve more faculty. Each institution’s plan involves two dimensions: 


  • Faculty Course/Pathway Development Cohorts that engage faculty in learning communities to develop new or revised community-engaged learning courses, social action components, capstones, and integrative pathways, and;


  • Faculty Change Leaders who engage with professional staff and centers in formalized roles with the Bonner Program and other community engagement administrators on projects that build institutional infrastructure for campus-wide faculty engagement and curriculum change.


Funded Proposals and a National Learning Community


The Bonner Foundation launched an RFP in March, 2019, accompanied by a comprehensive guide that described the purpose of the initiative. Campuses with Bonner Leader Programs or Bonner Scholar Programs that were not endowed by the Foundation previously or have less than $10,000 in enrichment funds from endowment earnings were invited to apply. Additionally, campuses with Bonner Scholar Programs with endowments were invited to use this opportunity to steer their funds more intentionally into faculty engagement, community-engaged learning, and institutional change projects. 


Each institution will engage faculty to design and teach community-engaged courses and projects, in collaboration with student leaders and partners. Rather than focusing on discrete courses, each campus has identified courses that may seed or be part of an integrative pathway. These pathways address issues (like social justice) and place-based needs. At least one staff and faculty partner will lead each institution’s strategy and diverse teams, working to achieve changes in institutional practice, culture, and policies (such as course designators, assessment, tenure, and partner infrastructure for community-based research and impact). 


RFP:                                                Community-Engaged Learning RFP - Final.pdf

Guide and Supporting Literature:    Community-Engaged Learning Initiative Proposal Guide - Final.pdf


In July, 2019, the Foundation reviewed proposals. In August, we announced funding to institutions that applied. Additionally, we continue to work with endowed institutions to develop their proposals and budgets to join the initiative in 2019-2020. We anticipate that a new RFP will be launched in March, 2020.


In September, 2019, the Bonner Foundation will launch a national learning community involving the staff and faculty (as well as some student leaders and community partners) from across the colleges and universities involved. This will be supported through face-to-face meetings, online platforms, a listserv, and collaborative projects. We envision publishing and other efforts to share the results of the work and lessons learned.