In August of 2021, the Center for Community Engagement (CCE) at the University of Mississippi welcomed its first cohort of Bonner Leaders by placing students from the class of 2025 in high-commitment, paid internships with community organizations. As a cohort, these students will participate in trainings that support skill-building in the nonprofit and public sectors, deepen their knowledge around the social and environmental issues facing Oxford and the Lafayette-Oxford University region and join a supportive community of peers through team building and community formation activities.
Bonners complete at least 24 hours of community engagement each month at selected community partner sites across Oxford. In the first year, Bonners also come together weekly in cohort meetings where they develop valuable knowledge about the city of Oxford and the Lafayette-Oxford University region. This curriculum of regular workshops, trainings, guest speakers, and discussions are part of the paid Fellowship. Through this curriculum and their experience working i
n the community, Bonners develop the skills, knowledge, and values that will support them in their future work and careers. Bonners also complete short reflections in order to meaningfully integrate their trainings and their work in the community and the classroom.
The primary goal of the Bonner Program is to provide a Community Engagement Fellowship to a group of diverse students, enabling them to grow in civic leadership through their work in the community. Because most Bonners come from diverse backgrounds that are often underrepresented at University of Mississippi, they are afforded financial support for their work in the community. The Bonner model provides a three-part support system to students that includes deep partnerships between our students and community organizations, solidarity between Bonner students, and direct mentorship from CCE staff.
Following the Bonner model, University of Mississippi joins a vibrant, nationally recognized network of more than 60 participating colleges and universities ranging from Oberlin College to Brown University. Bonner students at University of Mississippi become a part of a national community, united by the idea of “Bonner Love.”