Bonner / Partnerships, Placements and Projects (2023)

Front Page/Bonner Program Resources// Campus Examples

Overview | Guides| Campus Examples| Documents to Download


    1. Community Partner Application
    2. Creating an Introduction
    3. Partnership Agreements
    4. Visit and Orient Partners
    5. Match and Prepare Students
    6. Manage and Support Students
    7. Assess Accomplishments and Placements
    8. Berry College - Educational Panels, Issue Briefs, and Community Engagement Showcase

Community Partner Application

Creating an Introduction

Your program may want to create an introduction to the Community Partner Application. This may take the form of a cover letter or a simple form that is enclosed in the partner materials/binder. Elements of the introduction should include:

  • Greetings and/or context (why an application is important)
  • Deadline/due date for the application
  • Procedure for submitting
  • Contact information for Bonner Program staff

Sample Text for Introduction

The sample text below is for an introduction enclosed with the Application in a Community Partner binder/folder of materials, as opposed to cover letter.

During the spring semester, we invite all agencies who want to continue a higher-level partnership with the Bonner Program at ____________ (insert college) to complete a Application, either for the first time or as a renewal. The Application is designed to help our campus program to better serve you by sharing with us the work you are doing and how Bonner students (and other student volunteers) can support you in accomplishing that work. Through review of the application, we will be able to work with you to shape the placements and volunteer opportunities to fit your needs and the developmental needs and skills of the student(s), and to find student(s) who best match your placement and agency.

The application is simple and straightforward, only two pages in length.

DEADLINE: ______________ (insert here)

As you review this application material, please consider the following points:

It is very important that you return the application to the office on time for us to review. If an agency representative cannot return the application by the deadline, we advise you to request an extension. Extensions can be requested by contacting the Bonner Office at _________________.

Once an application is accepted, your organization will receive a letter of confirmation outlining the terms between the Bonner Program Office and the organization.

It is very helpful if all partner applications are typed and not photocopied from the year before. Please give serious consideration to your application and think of way in which the Bonner Program staff and students (and our campus) can assist you in fulfilling your mission as a community partner. We would hope that the job descriptions and applications might change each year, as you are able to define new goals and objectives for our partnership with your organization.

Contact information: if you have questions or would like to discuss your application, please contact the Bonner Program Coordinator at (XXX) XXX-XXXX

(Reference partner to application)

  • Brown University

Partnership Agreements

For community partners with whom you are entering a more sustained relationship and with whom you will cultivate service placements at the higher levels, it is recommended that you create and implement a written site agreement. Written site agreements should be considered at each level, if staffing allows, according to the following guidelines:

Type 1: Extended written Memorandum of Agreement Letter: This agreement letter is fairly comprehensive. It has the following features:

  • It defines the terms and timeline of the partnership.
  • It includes summary information about both the agency and the college (office).
  • It addresses the purpose of the partnership.
  • It addresses the goals and objectives of the partnership.
  • It describes the activities of the partnership.
  • It is the result of detailed collaborative planning, not a simple or generic form.
  • It may be reviewed by legal advisors (e.g., nonprofit Board of Directors or college administrators). In this case, the agreement is signed by the college’s President and the organization’s Executive Director.

Sample: Ferrum College and Big Creek People in Action

Type 2: Bullet-point Memorandum of Understanding

This agreement type is a generic form that can be completed by the college and the agency or organization. It has the following features:

    • It defines the expectations of each party in simple bullet-point terms.

The terms address such provisions:

    • Recruitment
    • Staffing roles
    • Transportation
    • Workplace
    • Disciplinary and dismissal policies
    • Non-discrimination and other legal policies
    • This example does not specify a term for the agreement, with the exception of the signing and dating.

Sample: Earlham Site MOU.doc

Type 3: Grant-specific written agreement

This agreement has features of both the written letter and the generic form that can be completed by the college and the agency or organization, including some specifics related to a particular grant and project. It has the following features:

    • It defines the parties in the agreement (agency and college) and the purpose of the partnership
    • The bullet-point terms, similar to type 2, address such provisions pertaining to the work to be done, roles, responsibilities, and procedures, including:
    • Agency commitments
    • Staffing roles
    • Workplace
    • Disciplinary and dismissal policies
    • Non-discrimination and other legal policies
    • This example also defines prohibited activities.

Sample: UDayton Part Agreement.doc

Type 4: Memorandum of Agreement for a Community-Based Research Initiative

At Washington & Lee University, central staff conduct outreach with community partners, identifying and cataloging their requests for research and other projects in a database. They do this in partner focus groups with 4-8 partners who work on a similar issue (i.e., education, hunger, housing). This database is available on the W&L website for faculty and students to peruse and find projects. Center staff then help make matches between partners and faculty and/or students to carry out projects. The center staff have developed a comprehensive template for stakeholders to articulate their agreements. In this handout, you can find a copy.

Sample: Memo on Partner Focus Groups.pdf

Visit and Orient Partners

Schools in the Bonner network often use summertime to reconnect with their community partners and gather feedback for future collaboration. Below, is an example from Berry College of theirannual summer meeting with their community partners to ensure program success.

Berry College Community Partners’ Summer Meeting - Every summer the The Berry CollegeCommunity Engagement (BCCE) staff schedules annual one-on-one meetings with each of their community partners. These one-hour meetings allow for a discussion of the previous year's partnership while also planning for the future. They include brainstorming, problem-solving, and shared visioning. The staff works diligently to communicate program expectations, student deadlines, timecard protocols, etc. In addition, partners share organizational updates, discuss current community needs, and give insights regarding program improvement. These meetings are working meetings that sometimes include hard conversations regarding mutuality and reciprocity.

  • Berry College - Community Partner Summer Meeting Form

Rutgers University - New Brunswick 10th Anniversary Celebration of the Collaborative Center for Community Engagement-Before the academic year ended, the Collaborative Center at Rutgers University in New Brunswick held a celebration to highlight their 10-year partners for making a positive difference in our communities. Rutgers awarded partners and shared stories of how they have continued to support Rutgers faculty, staff, students, and alumni. This event helped strengthen community partnerships and introduce the work of the community to Rutgers staff and faculty.

  • Rutgers University - New Brunswick 10th Anniversary Celebration of the Collaborative Center for Community Engagement

Match and Prepare Students

Bonner / Partnerships, Placements and Projects (1)

DePauw University Center Handbook

  • ServiceHandbookDEPAUW BROADER.pdf

Match Day Overview &Process - Brown University

At Brown, our incoming Bonner students and community partners are paired together through our match process. Students interview with an average of 4 Community Partners based on interest, and Community Partners get to interview an average of 7 students. After the interview process, students and partners rank one another, and staff at Swearer use these rankings to make best-fit matches. We use this process for different fellowship, internship and work-study placements through our Center.

  • Networking Fair & Ranking:

During our Pre-Season for Bonner, our incoming first years meet with our incoming community partners during a networking-style fair. Students get a chance to meet with representatives of each organization, ask questions about the organization’s mission and work, and learn more about the role of Bonners within that site. Immediately after the fair, students rank all available community partners based on their interest. Staff at Swearer take these rankings to assign students to an interview schedule for Match Day.

  • Match Day:

Match Day is an event where all community partners conduct 15-20 minute back to back interviews for potential Bonners at their site. Typically, we host this at a local high school close to Brown’s campus - it provides us with plenty of classrooms for individual interviews and an auditorium space for prep, as well as parking for partners. Partners are able to interview an average of 7 students and students interview with an average of 4 partners. After all the interviews have been completed; students rank the partners they’ve interviewed with that day and partners rank all the Bonners they interviewed using their own rubrics/assessment.

  • Best-Fit Matches:

Staff compile all student and community partner rankings to make best-fit matches. These matches are based on placement slots for each partner and mutual rankings. Generally, the matches are led by the partner ranking preferences - we start out by making all 1 to 1 matches and then looking at 2nd and 3rd place rankings. Once all matches are made, students and partners are emailed and notified about the matches and encouraged to set up an initial meeting together within the following week.

Bonner Interview Market - Mars Hill University

Mars Hill University’s Bonner Interview Market allows Bonners and Community Site Partners to interview one another and find a potential fit with the community organization’s needs and students’ areas of interest and skills. The Interview Market is described as “Speed-Dating for Service.” It incorporates a networking or fair-like component. For more details, please refer to the attachments.

  • Bonner Interview Market Overview
  • Bonner Interview Market Tips

Manage and Support Students

Bonner / Partnerships, Placements and Projects (2)

Site-Based Student Coordinators - Guilford College

Guilford College has an excellent structure for project coordinators that may be helpful. They have identified eleven agencies as committed sites, partners with whom they will work and have a group of student volunteers (Bonner and others) each year. Each of the committed site has at least one Project Coordinator. Guilford organizes an intensive training for these Project Coordinators called Leadership Pre-mester. Training addresses skills and broader issues such as anti-racism training. The attached power-point (see resources below) has a full description. They also have excellent materials including a job description and evaluations.

In recruiting Project Coordinators, the program looks for the following specific skills and qualifications:

  • Commitment to volunteer service as an important component of a liberal arts education.

  • Experience as a committed volunteer in the wider community.

  • Willingness to consider charity and justice issues related to community service; learn about issues of race and power and to encourage volunteers’ engagement in understanding how these issues impact our community;

  • Engage in a planning process to set personal development goals and develop a portfolio.

  • Individual must be responsible and willing to make a one-year commitment.

Assess Accomplishments and Placements

Bonner / Partnerships, Placements and Projects (3)

As campuses move to a site- or issue-based team model for setting up and managing Bonners and other students' partnerships, they may find it useful to reorient the campus as a whole to this work. This can include by ensuring that faculty members and other offices on campus understand the team structure and find points of integration with it.

Integration strategies can include:

  • Training clubs and organizations, like Greek Life or through Student Affairs, to also use a deep service or site-based approach to partnerships
  • Connecting a faculty advisory or other staff mentors to these sites or teams
  • Finding deeper points of integration through coursework or pathways

Below are some interesting examples of supports shared with the Foundation from Bonner Programs and campuses.

Berry College - Educational Panels, Issue Briefs, and Community Engagement Showcase

At Berry in the past few years, they have been strengthening the issue-based team structure. In 2016-2017, Berry Bonner issue-based teams collaborated with campus and community experts to host six evening panels focusing on social justice issues and their impacts on Rome and Floyd County, Georgia. The series were then part of an initiative to give students more context for the challenges of our neighbors and introduce students to opportunities to connect with organizations seeking sustainable solutions.

Topics included the working poor, queer people of color, food insecurity, fracking, literacy, and college access for the Latino population. The fall Bonner series was well-attended and well-received by campus. In the spring, issue-based teams added an advocacy component to their programming. The teams researched existing policies pertaining to their social justice issues and constructed policy briefs that were sent to local government officials, state legislators, and service providers in an attempt to systemically address the issues and make a lasting impact.

Finally, the issue-based teams presented posters at the Community Engagement Showcase, a part of the Symposium on Student Scholarship; the posters highlighted a review of the work of the issue-based teams throughout the year. This work helped foster campus-wide discussions about the conceptualization ofAcademic Community Engagement and the approval of a course designator.

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