Bonner Leaders Program

Program Description

The Bonner Leaders Program is a national four-year servant leadership model developed by The Bonner Foundation in 1991. The program provides financial assistance to undergraduate students who agree to a weekly commitment to intensive and meaningful service with a local Dayton nonprofit organization. In addition to service with community partners, Bonner Leader students participate in leadership development workshops and social justice trainings as a means of encouraging students to become active change agents and comprehend the importance of serving real needs. The Bonner Common Commitments include: civic engagement, international perspective, community building, diversity, social justice, and spiritual exploration. The Bonner network is comprised of students and alumni from over 85 colleges and universities.


In addition to providing financial assistance to offset university costs, The Bonner Leaders Program offers incoming students a built in peer group that has a shared passion for service and leadership. Students have the opportunity to attend national conferences and service trips, serve in various leadership roles, and develop skills that assist with addressing community-identified needs. The program is designed to transform not only the students who are directly supported by the program, but also the University of Dayton campus and Dayton community. Bonner Leader students develop a greater understanding of community assets and challenges, as well as the skills and commitment to be effective in addressing community-identified issues. Upon graduation, Bonner alumni remain actively involved in service regardless of what career path they pursue.

Types of Work Bonner Students Engage in During the Program

The first year of the program, students work at one of the Neighborhood School Centers, participate in a community organization rotation, and student success orientation. The second year of the program, students will be matched with non-profit organizations that closely align with their personal and academic interests. Students have the option to work with agencies who provide services to local communities in effort to address areas such as poverty, homelessness, criminal justice issues, immigrants and refugees, mental health, education, and food insecurity. Working with their identified community partner for the remaining three years of the program, student’s roles progressively deepen from providing direct service to working as a project or site coordinator to engaging in community-based research and public policy advocacy work.

Program Expectations
  • Commitment to community internship (6-8 hours a week) for 4 years as their federal work-study assignment.
  • Participation in training and leadership enrichment activities (2 hours a week on Fridays from 3:30 - 5:30 pm) as a component of their federal work-study assignment.
  • 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 Leaders 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.”

“What I know as the foundations for family and home have been strengthened. Working and learning with the Bonner Leaders have become an opportunity that unites students with a passion for service and experience, and have taught me the defining characteristics of what we call ‘Bonner love.’”

“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
  • Students eligible for federal work study
  • Members of underrepresented groups
  • All majors and areas of interest are welcome
  • Students with a commitment to community engagement and social action for the common good
  • Students with a desire to develop/enhance their servant leadership skills
How and When to Apply

Students interested in participating in the Bonner Leaders Program are required to submit an application. The review of applications will begin on March 15, and applications will be accepted on a rolling basis until all spaces are filled. Finalists will be invited for Skype interviews.

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

Find Us

Fitz Center for Leadership in Community

St. Joseph Hall 433 
300 College Park 
Dayton, Ohio 45469 - 1445