Bonner Community Leaders

The Bonner Community Leaders Program at Simmons University is a unique opportunity for students who want to combine a strong commitment to service with personal growth, teamwork, leadership development, and scholarship.

Bonner Community Leaders with President Wooten

Being a Bonner Community Leader involves a commitment not only to service, but also to learning how to be an effective change agent for one's campus, community, and beyond. Ideal Bonner candidates are passionate about civic engagement and eliminating systematic inequalities, demonstrate community involvement, embrace working in a team setting, have leadership potential, and possess a strong commitment to the Bonner mission to "transform students, communities, and campuses through service."

We invite all first year students to apply and select 10-15 new participants each year. To be eligible for the program, participants must have federal work-study as part of their financial aid package and a demonstrated commitment to community involvement.

Financial Support & Additional Benefits

  • Federal Work Study funding, typically $2,500 per academic year, as determined by the student's financial aid package
  • A stipend of up to $2,000 each year based on hours served
  • Local transportation passes and covering other possible costs associated with service

Totalling up to $18,000 during a four-year undergraduate career!

Professional Development

  • Opportunity for participation in national conferences
  • Engagement with a community of peers who are passionate about service and social justice
  • Mentoring from staff, faculty, and Bonner mentors
  • Opportunity to serve in the local and regional community through service site placements

Networking Opportunities

  • Membership in a nationally recognized program
  • Alumni network after graduation
  • Develop strong professional communication skills

Personal Skills and Growth

  • Build time management skills and learn to balance multiple priorities.
  • Gain an understanding of community and community partner needs.
  • Learn the root causes of social issues and role of community serve and service-learning in collaboratively creating solutions.
  • Become more fully human and conscientious as an active, contributing member of society.

Bonner Community Leaders are expected to

  • Become a part of a dedicated team of leaders in community service and social justice by being matched with a community-based organization for a multi-year partnership based upon community needs
  • Complete 280 hours of combined service, training, meetings, and class sessions per year for the 4 year engagement
  • Attend regularly scheduled, required Bonner meetings
  • Participate in pre-service orientation
  • Participate in a first-year service trip and a second-year service exchange
  • Complete one summer internship spending at least 280 hours with a local, state, national or international non-profit or government agency
  • Make a final presentation of learning
  • Maintain at least a 2.5 GPA
  • Embrace the Bonner Common Commitments

Bonner is founded on six common commitments:

  • Diversity - We respect and embrace the many dimensions of diversity in our private and public lives
  • Social Justice - We advocate for fairness, impartiality, and equality while addressing systemic social and environmental issues.
  • International Perspective - We develop international understanding that enables us to participate successfully in a global society.
  • Spiritual Exploration - We explore personal belief while respecting the spiritual practices of others.
  • Civic Engagement - We participate intentionally as a citizen in the democratic process, actively engaging in public policy and direct service.
  • Community Building - We establish and sustain a vibrant community of place, personal relationships, and common interests.
  • Wellness - We value balance in our lives, prioritizing our academic, civic and personal responsibilities, and modeling productive behaviors in the settings in which we serve and learn.

Bonner has key Cornerstone Activities: The Cornerstone Activities are designed to be hallmarks and help to foster Bonner Leader development.

  • First-Year Bonner Orientation (required) - This is a Bonner student's first experience with the Bonner Program that equips the student with a sense of Bonner community, and basic knowledge with which to begin their work in the program.
  • Bonner First-Year Trip - These experiences take place during the first week of summer after a Bonner's first year. While these travel trips may revolve around service, activities generally include meetings with community residents, agency representatives, and others who provide students with an educational context about the community.
  • Bonner Congress- This is a leadership opportunity to represent Simmons' Bonner program at the national level and connect with other Bonner Leaders across the US.
  • Junior/Senior Leadership- There are multiple opportunities for any Bonner, though most often 3rd and 4th year students, to take more initiative through different leadership opportunities in the Bonner Program. Opportunities include supporting or facilitating cornerstone activities that can be linked to academics, campus-wide events, international service immersion trips, and/or Bonner Intern positions.
  • Senior Capstone & Senior Presentation of Learning (required)-The Senior Capstone is defined as a culminating educational activity in which students integrate and apply their learning to a significant project with meaning to the student and to society. Senior Presentation of Learning is an opportunity for Bonners to reflect on their experiences, to articulate personal transformations through the Bonner Program, and to envision their place in the world after graduation.

This program is designed to challenge and support students throughout their four years through an experiential learning model.

Starting their first year at Simmons, Bonner Leaders are oriented and immersed in exploring personal and interpersonal identity, the local and at-large community, and the program's structure and expectations.

Bonner Student Roles - Expertise, Example, Experience and Exploration

Through a combination of training, reflection, and community engagement activities, students will evaluate the relationship between identity and place, and learn how to identify social problems and address questions within society. Each year the program builds upon itself, allowing students to lead, take more responsibility, and think more critically about their community experiences.


Bonner Community Partners

The program partners with nonprofit and community-based organizations in multiple issue areas, including education, the environment, hunger and homelessness, healthcare, youth with disabilities, and many more. Partners serve as co-educators in student development and community engagement.

Why should you become a Bonner Community Leaders Partner?

Through this multi-year partnership, you will have access to dedicated students committed to service, leadership, and community involvement. Each year, Simmons accepts new students into the program, offering long-standing partnership and continued support.

Community Partner Guidelines:

  • Attend the Bonner Community Partners Orientation on September 26, 2024 and Match Day event on October 9, 2024.
  • Execute a Memorandum of Understanding with Simmons University.
  • Select a staff member to act as an on-site supervisor to provide regular check-ins and act as a co-educator and facilitator of an effective relationship between your organization and the Bonner Leader.
  • Set clear guidelines for projects and responsibilities. Work with Bonner Leader to create a Community Learning Agreement and developmental plan.

Community Partner Application Process:

  1. Review the Request for Partners in full.
  2. Review the sample position descriptions.
  3. Create a copy of the Bonner Position Description Template and fill out for proposed Bonner Position (will be uploaded to application below)
  4. Complete the Bonner Community Leader Host Site Application:


Bonner Community Leader Host Site Application Due July 28.

Contact [email protected] for questions or extensions.

Application Questions

  1. Why are you interested in applying to be a Bonner Leader? (250 word limit)
  2. What do you see as your responsibility to the community around us? (250 word limit)
  3. Please share a specific story about a community-engaged learning experience. What did you learn about yourself, other people, and/or the wider world? What knowledge, skills, or values did you gain or deepen? What role did power and privilege play?
  4. The Bonner Community Leaders Program at Simmons University values diversity of identity, thought, and experience. What was/is an experience you have had with people who were different from you? Explain what you learned from this experience.
  5. There are six common commitments in the Bonner Community Leaders Program: Diversity, International Perspective, Social Justice, Community Building, Civic Engagement, and Spiritual Exploration. Identify one of the commitments that most resonates with you and explain why. How do you envision using that commitment in your service work?

Application Timeline

November 15, 2023Bonner Application Opens
December, 2023FAFSA Applications Open (please apply to FAFSA as soon as possible)
February 1, 2024Simmons Application Deadline
February 1, 2024Bonner Priority Application Deadline
March 18 – 22, 2024Bonner Priority Interview Week
April 8, 2024Bonner Priority Decision
June 21, 2024Bonner Final Application Deadline
July 22 – 26, 2024Bonner Interview Week
August 1, 2024Bonner Final Decision
August 28, 2024Bonner Move In
August 29 – 30, 2024Bonner Orientation


Top: Justine Paragas '26, Solmi Grace Kwak '26. Bottom: Aislinn Grace Doherty '26, and Marzieh Darling-Donnelly '26

Bonner Community Leaders in the News

The Bonner Community Leaders Program supports Simmons students who are passionate about service, community engagement, social justice, and responsible citizenship. 

Explore stories about Bonner Community Leaders

Bonner Leaders in Washington, D.C.

Bonner Community Leaders 2022-2023 Annual Report

Simmons University is the first institution of higher education in Massachusetts and only the third in New England to implement the Bonner model and be accepted into the Bonner Network. In its inaugural year, Simmons Bonner Leaders worked with seven community partners, including: Fenway Health, Dana Farber, Massachusetts National Organization for Women, Girls LEAP, Massachusetts Peace Action, The Boston House, and Orchard Gardens K-8 school. In sum, Bonners served a total of 1,412 hours of community engagement throughout the duration of the academic year.

Download the 2022-2023 Report