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Program and Risk Management

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Front Page / Bonner Program Resources / Program and Risk Management / Overview



Program and Risk Management

Overview  |  Guides  |  Campus Examples  |  Documents to Download


In general, the Bonner Foundation works in a unique way with the campus centers and professionals that build and run Bonner Scholar and Leader Programs.  These programs are operated and funded by the institutions that sponsor them (even at institutions that received endowments for their Bonner Scholar and/or Leader Programs). As such, the campus personnel who serve as Directors and Coordinators of the Bonner Program play critical roles in establishing the policies, procedures, and protocol that are relevant to their implementation of the Bonner Program. These individuals provide oversight, often reflecting the unique institutional cultures and environments at which they operate. Staff work closely with their institutional colleagues (such as in Risk Management, general or legal counsel, or other areas) to create and carry out necessary administrative functions. Bonner Directors and Coordinators – who play many other roles including as center directors, faculty member, and managers of internships, other fellowships, and campus programs – establish and carry out administration of areas including:


  • Bonner Recruitment and Selection
  • Any administrative matters, such as documentation and paperwork related to campus-community partnerships (i.e., MOUs, waivers, etc.)
  • Transportation and Travel
  • Protocol related to Meetings
  • Protocol related to Service Trips and Events


As noted in the volume The Community Engagement Professional, risk management is an increasingly important component of the field of community engagement. Many institutions, especially those that are part of larger public systems, even have more complex platforms and policies to ensure that community engagement, community engaged learning, internships, etc. are carried out in ways that are safe and do not pose harm or risks to those involved nor to community constituents. The Bonner Foundation aims to support the effectiveness of these program and risk management procedures by providing resources and professional development for its national community of practice. Still, the Foundation recognizes that in most instances (exceptions, such as the basic four year structure, staffing, and hour requirement, can be found in the Bonner Program handbook), individual institutions have great discretion in setting the the policies, procedures, and protocol used by campus programs.



Implications of COVID-19 on Community Engagement


The novel coronavirus, COVID-19, has been declared a worldwide pandemic by the World Health Organization. COVID-19 is extremely contagious and is believed to spread mainly from person-to-person contact. As a result, federal, state, and local governments and federal and state health agencies recommend social distancing and have, in many locations, prohibited the gathering of groups of people. As a result of COVID-19, most campuses in the Bonner Network have already (as of August 2020) adopted plans for remote community engagement in 2020-21. Additionally, most campuses have many restrictions against in person engagement, internships, service trips, and other events. 


These policies vary, however, by state and cities, often tied to the local context. Regardless of location, the declared worldwide COVID-19 pandemic makes it imperative that all volunteers (including Bonner students, staff, and faculty) who are engaging in work with local community organizations, agencies, and schools understand how to best practice social distancing and other precautions to minimize the spread of the virus. 


The U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services, the Centers for Disease Control, and state Departments of Health have compiled important guidelines for any organization (including campus centers and the partners with which they work) involving volunteers during this crisis. Institutions of higher education have also developed related policies and protocol. All community engagement activities should adhere to critical health and safety protocols in order to:


  • Protect Student and Other Volunteers
  • Protect Community Residents
  • Protect Clients and People Served by Agencies
  • Protect Schools, Organizations, and Agencies


With the help of a Bonner 2020 Working Group, the Foundation has gathered, adapted and here shares templates for commonly used waivers, MOUs, and other forms, which have been adapted to include language and guidelines related to COVID-19. Additionally, we are developing a range of resources and recommendations to support remote and online program management and community engagement projects. These will provide campuses with help for how to manage their programs and conduct key components (including Bonner Cornerstones, capacity building projects that are also capstones, recruitment and selection, and more).


  • You will find an annotated list of the resources, as well as relevant instructions, on the Guides page above.
  • You will also find additional examples and links to resources from within and beyond the Bonner Network on Campus Examples page.
  • You will find links to the templates on the Documents to Download page.