The Bonner Experience

The Experience

The Bonner Program is offered through the Shepherd Program at W&L, and is one chapter out of more than 67 colleges and universities within the wider, national Corella and Bertram F. Bonner Foundation.

Through sustained partnerships with colleges and congregations, the Bonner Foundation seeks to improve the lives of individuals and communities by helping meet the basic needs of nutrition and educational opportunity.

Core Beliefs

  • Colleges and congregations have vital roles to play in society in nurturing and mobilizing thoughtful, caring, and diverse leadership dedicated to community service.
  • That often the best way to help someone is to give them the opportunity to help themselves, and that the people best able to address a problem are the people whom it most directly affects.
  • That effective community service programs involve all stakeholders in their leadership.
  • To create innovative programs that have the potential to serve as models for the field.


Bonner Scholars are expected to participate in the Bonner Program all four years at W&L. The experience includes completing 1800 hours of service and leadership training (at least 280 hours during each academic year and typically two summers of full-time service). This is a model that challenges and supports each Bonner Scholar to develop her or his skills, knowledge, commitments, and responsibilities throughout their time in college. Bonner Scholars are expected to:

  • Participate in activities, including orientation, first-year service trips, sophomore service exchange, and a complete a senior service capstone
  • Submit required program paperwork in a timely manner
  • Participate fully in the program by assuming leadership roles in the community and the Bonner Program
  • Commit to making connections between their service and education at W&L

Are you the next Bonner Scholar?

Apply to the Bonner Program