New program provides community engagement experiences for undergraduates

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

The UNC Charlotte chapter of the Bonner Leaders Program is relatively new to campus. Yet, the participating students already are engaged in efforts to serve the community.

This year’s cohort of 12 undergraduates is partnering with five area nonprofits: Carolina Refugee Resettlement Agency, Camino Community Center, Discovery Place, Friendship Gardens/Friendship Trays and the Levine Museum of the New South.

“Each of these were selected strategically to be community partners to host our Bonner Leaders because of their unique missions and their methods to assist the greater Charlotte community,” said Sean Langley, associate director of volunteer outreach in the Dean of Students Office. Langley and Tamara Johnson, research associate for academic planning and analysis in the Academic Affairs Office, worked collaboratively to establish the University’s chapter of the Bonner Leaders program.

Through their work with the five partner agencies, Bonner Leaders will contribute to community efforts that fight hunger, preserve cultural histories, promote science education, increase access to health services and address the digital divide.

“Working within these organizations will create opportunities that allow Bonner Leaders to take on increasingly responsible roles that they usually would not have as first-year students,” Johnson stated.

Bonner Leader Arielle Little, a psychology major from Johnson City, Tennessee, observed her fellow program participants all had a passion for civic engagement and leadership. “I look forward to learning more about the city of Charlotte and taking home what I learn.”

The Bonner Leaders Program is part of a nationwide network of more than 70 colleges and universities affiliated with and guided by the Bonner Foundation, which works with these institutions to support students to attend college and to be active and involved in the greater community.

As part of the program, UNC Charlotte Bonner Leaders take required courses devoted to themes that apply to their work outside the classroom. Their curriculum is designed to build critical thinking, problem solving and communication skills. Students also will conduct undergraduate research and have the opportunity to minor in urban youth and communities.

Participants, who receive compensation through the federal work-study program, also serve as advocates for the program on campus and for the nonprofit organizations with which they work. They are selected through a highly competitive process open to incoming first-year students who are eligible for federal work-study awards.

Meet this year’s UNC Charlotte Bonner Leaders, and learn more about this program on the web.