Bonner Scholars Program


In the fall of 1990, the Corella and Bertram F. Bonner Foundation began recognizing students who demonstrated the ability to succeed both in the classroom of their colleges and in the communities beyond those classrooms. To promising students whose economic situations ordinarily demanded that they spend their out of class hours and summer months raising money to meet college expenses, the Bonner Foundation awarded scholarships and provided other practical support.

The Bonner Scholars Program is based on the premise that young people care about others, and given the opportunity, will become active and involved in the local community. It is also based on the understanding that college students have a unique and important contribution to make to our society.

The program was initiated at Berea College in Kentucky during the 1990-91 academic year. In the following year, the program expanded to 12 campuses and 750 students before growing to 22 schools and approximately 1,500 students during 1992-93. The Bonner program currently encompasses 25 colleges and universities.

All colleges in the program operate under a set of broad guidelines, and each has developed a Bonner Scholars Program that meets the needs of its student body and the unique culture of its campus. The Bonner Foundation staff believed from the beginning that the presidents, administrators, faculty and most particularly Bonner Scholars at participating colleges should lead their program's development and have an important voice in the national program's direction.

Since 1994, the Bonner Scholars Program has organized bi-annual "summits," which gather scholars, coordinators, community leaders, faculty and presidents to discuss a wide range of issues. This meeting, which brings together representatives from all parts of a campus community, is unique in the service and higher education field.

Wofford Bonner Scholars have taken a strong leadership role in the Spartanburg and Wofford College communities. Wofford Bonners tutor children, teach the physically disabled to swim, run after school programs, become companions to elderly people, become mentors to emotionally disturbed children and youths, teach adults to read or speak English and build homes with Habitat for Humanity. The opportunities for service are only limited by the number of people who need to be served. The opportunities for reaching out to others are endless.

Becoming a Bonner Scholar

To be considered for a Bonner Scholarship, complete and submit ALL FOUR application components before the deadline.

  • Apply for admission to Wofford by the Early Action deadline (Nov. 15).
  • Submit the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) to Wofford's Financial Aid Office.
  • Provide at least one letter of recommendation, which can reflect a commitment to service in the home, school, community or religious organization.
  • Complete the Bonner application.

Any high school student preparing to enter college may apply for a Bonner Scholarship at Wofford. The preliminary screening is based on financial need and academic record. A secondary screening is based on past service experience.

The Bonner Scholars Program will offer as many as 15 students an opportunity to be actively involved in community service projects throughout each academic year and during the summers in their hometowns or elsewhere. Bonner Scholars receive substantial grant and scholarship assistance to meet their financial need in full. This makes the dollar value of the awards comparable to some of Wofford's top awards and removes the financial barriers for many students.

Each scholar is selected from the incoming first-year class and is expected to stay involved in the program throughout their four years of college.

Bonner Congress

Bonner Congress is a group of fifty students chosen from each Bonner Scholars Program to represent their respective programs.
+ Learn more about the Bonner Congress.

Bonner Reflection Options

Bonners are responsible for reflecting each semester. Reflecting helps you to process and understand the purpose, meaning, and effect of your service.
+ Learn more about the Bonner Reflection Options.