Bonner Scholars Program

Apply to be a Bonner Scholar

First Year Bonners 2016-17

The Bonner Scholars Program is a unique opportunity for students who want to combine a strong commitment to service with personal growth, teamwork, leadership development, and scholarship. Students who have completed an application for the Berea College class of 2026 may apply to be a Bonner Scholar.

History of the Program at Berea College

Berea College was the first institution chosen to participate in the Bonner Scholars Program. It first took part in the fall of 1990. The Corella and Bertram Bonner Foundation of Princeton, New Jersey established the program. After working with John Stephenson, then President of Berea, the foundation determined that Berea’s history, reputation, and commitment to the ethic of service made it the ideal institution to launch the program.

From 1993 to 1998, Berea College was not involved in the Program. It rejoined as of the 1998-99 academic year.  That year, 40 students distributed throughout the four classes became designated Bonner Scholars. The program now engages around 60 students. These students represent a diverse collection of interests, majors, and backgrounds in service. They serve on campus and in the Berea community. They also serve in extended opportunities for national and international service.

Berea Bonners are part of a nationally recognized network of student leaders. These students share a reputation for outstanding leadership on their respective campuses. They display a commitment to make a difference in the communities and organizations they serve.

The Program Today

Today, the Bonner network reaches more than 60 campuses nationwide. It is based on the premise that young people care about others and want to make a difference in the world. It is also based on the belief that college students have a significant contribution to make to society. They can become active leaders and change agents in the local community and beyond.

Each year, 15 new Bonner Scholars are selected from the incoming class of First Year students. Students remain in the program through graduation.

Bonner Scholars are selected based upon:

  • their scholarship
  • service activities
  • demonstrated leadership potential
  • interest in working in a team setting

Once selected, participants have an intense cohort experience based on training, professional and personal development, and small team-based service programming.



The Bonner Scholars Program offers the following opportunities to students:

  • Labor positions (student’s required job while enrolled) will be service-based beginning with the freshman year (See Bonner Service)
  •  Leadership training, regional conferences, and service events
  • A developmental model that includes mentoring from upper-level service leaders
  • Ongoing enrichment programs, including guest speakers
  • National Bonner Foundation resources
  • Financial assistance for summer service projects
  • Networking opportunities with the additional 60+ schools affiliated with the Bonner Foundation.