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Fitz Center for Leadership in Community

Bonner Leaders Program

Program Description

The Bonner Leader program is a national four-year student leadership model developed by The Bonner Foundation in 1991. The program provides underrepresented college students with financial resources to access education and to promote skills and values of leadership and community engagement. Central to the program, students make a weekly commitment to intensive and meaningful service with a local Dayton nonprofit, school or community-based organization. In addition to service with community partners, Bonner students participate in leadership development workshops and other trainings to become active change agents here in Dayton and in the communities they join after graduation.

The Bonner Common Commitments include: civic engagement, international perspective, community building, diversity, social justice, and spiritual exploration. The Bonner network boasts an alumni of over 6,000 graduates who are able to connect their studies and service, are active change agents, comprehend the importance of serving real needs, and have a deeper understanding of what it truly means to be an engaged citizen and leader.

  • Financial assistance to offset university cost
  • 4 years of progressively deepening professional experience
  • Summer service internships opportunities
  • Built in peer group with shared passion for service and leadership
  • Cohort based service trips, exchanges and national conferences
  • Greater understanding of communities’ assets and challenges
  • Ability to be an effective leader
Types of Work Bonner Students Engage in During the Program

In the Bonner Leader program, students are part of a developmental learning model focused on civically engaged leadership and community building. In year one of the program, students work at one of the Neighborhood School Centers (NSCs), participate in a community organization rotation, and student success orientation. NSCs are a partnership and program with the Fitz Center for Leadership in Community. NSCs are Dayton Public Schools that are centered on their neighborhoods, serving as healthy places of learning for children and families. There are six NSCs throughout Dayton. The University’s Fitz Center places interns and tutors at five schools including Cleveland, Edison, Fairview, Kiser, and Ruskin Elementary.

In the second year of the program, students are matched with nonprofit organizations that closely align with their personal and academic interests. Students have the option to work with nonprofits and community-based organizations working on the frontlines addressing critical issues such as poverty, homelessness, criminal justice issues, immigrants and refugees, mental health, education, and food insecurity. Working with their identified organization for the remaining three years of the program, students’ leadership roles progressively deepen from providing direct service to working as a project or site coordinator to engaging in community-based research and advocacy.

Program Expectations
  • Leadership in Community Building internship (6-8 hours a week) for 4 years;
  • Participation in training and leadership development activities (2 hours a week);
  • Complete at least one community-related summer internship before graduation (280 hours);
  • Develop and implement a community-based research project or social action project to be presented their senior year;
  • Attend orientations, retreats, service trips, and cohort initiatives hosted by the Bonner Leader program
Testimonies from Bonner Students

“Being a Bonner has taught me things that go way beyond school or engaging in service. Being a Bonner has definitely helped me with the adjustment from high school into college. I have learned how to balance life and school, which is a difficult task in itself.”

“The Bonner program has allowed a group of diverse students to unite together with a common passion to serve and impact their community. I have enjoyed building relationships with the kids and becoming their friend and role model, as well as their tutor.”

“Being a Bonner is so much more than a regular work-study job. You interact with community members on a personal level and build relationships with your peers. To me, Bonner means family.”

Who Can Apply?
  • Incoming freshmen;
  • Members of underrepresented groups;
  • All majors and areas of interest are welcome;
  • Students with a commitment to leadership for the common good and desire to develop/enhance their servant leadership skills.
For More Information

Bonner Leaders Program
Fitz Center for Leadership in Community
University of Dayton
300 College Park
Dayton, OH 45469-1480

Campus Location: 206 Zehler Hall
Phone: 937-229-4699
Fax: 937-229-4638


Fitz Center for Leadership in Community

1401 S. Main Street
Dayton, Ohio 45409