2023 Bonner graduating cohort group photo with eleven students

Bonner Program

Access to Education. Opportunity to Serve.

The Bonner Program at Centre attracts students from across the United States who are daily changemakers and are passionate about serving their communities. Our students access an elite liberal arts education while also growing personally and professionally through core program experiences, direct service, one-on-one mentorship, and connection to a national network.

Program Overview

Over four years, Bonners dive deep into the issues affecting our society by completing a four-year paid internship with a local nonprofit, engaging with their cohort through cornerstone experiences, and participating in weekly topic meetings.

Look Into Bonner

Bonner Scholars and Leaders are a dynamic group of changemakers at Centre College. In this video Bonner Alumni share their insights on what makes the organization so impactful, as you get a look into the many experiences Centre Bonners share together.

What to Expect

Four Year Partnership

All Bonners must complete 120 hours of service-work each semester with a nonprofit partner in the community (totaling an impressive 960 hours by graduation). Our 35+ nonprofit partners are truly co-educators who offer Bonners direct mentorship throughout their four years

Cornerstone Experiences

Group photo of students working on service project on site

Cornerstone experiences are cohort-based programs and projects that every Bonner student will participate in during their four years:

  • First Year Service Trip - immersive service experience in Caretta, West Virginia
  • Sophomore Exchange- service conference that brings together sophomore Bonners
  • Junior Legacy Project - project-based problem solving with a nonprofit partner
  • Senior Presentations of Learning - presentations by each senior that connects their Bonner experience to their post-graduate endeavors

Weekly Meetings

Weekly meetings bring together all Bonners for a topic- focused presentation by a guest speaker or fellow students.  Past Examples include:

  • The Global Reach of Clothing Waste 
  • Diversity in Children’s Literature & Book Bans 
  • Labor Unions & Strikes 
  • International Maternal Health 
  • Statistics & Social Justice 
  • The Ethics of Studying Abroad 
  • How Gender Shapes Our Perceptions of the Body 
  • Financial Literacy & Student Loans

Financial Benefits

The Bonner Program is made up of Bonner Scholars and Bonner Leaders. While both Scholars and Leaders participate in the same program, the financial aid package for Scholars differs from Leaders based on need.

Bonner FundingScholarLeader
Scholarship$30,000 (renewable)Priority consideration for need-based financial aid
Summer of Service$3,500 per summer*$3,500 per summer*
Federal Work Study$2,200 annually (complete 240 hours of service work)
Rising Senior Fund$500 (successful completion of junior year)

*Two summers required of Scholars, one summer recommended of Leaders.

Bonner group of students using a heart symbol with their hands

The Bonner Foundation

Connect With A National Network

Colleges and universities, local and national non-profits, and a thriving Alumni network — collectively, working to transform lives through service

Additional Benefits

Campus Community

Bonner group photo at bowling ally at event

Connection to community is a core part of the Bonner experience. You will be a part of a 15-person cohort and a 60-person program so engagement with other Bonners will be constant. You will get to know one other through community building events like game nights, movie watch parties, study sessions, and group service. Bonners grow together and are plugged into the broader community through service.

Grad-School Partnerships

Do you plan to continue your education after Centre? Through partnership between select institutes of higher education and the Bonner Foundation, Bonner students and alumni receive some form of financial assistance, such as application fee waivers, tuition discounts, partial- or full-tuition scholarships, and/or stipends to alleviate the economic barriers to pursuing a graduate degree.


For over 25 years, the Bonner Program at Centre has supported students who exhibit excellence and make a positive impact in their communities.
Elizabeth Stronjan headshot

Elizabeth Strojan ’06

Elizabeth (Wisman) Strojan named Executive Director of the Louisville Metro Housing Authority after a stint as VP at the New York City Housing Development Corporation

Eh Nay Thaw using bullhorn during protest

Eh Nay Thaw ’18

Eh Nay Thaw has led protests across Myanmar in response to the ongoing crisis and military coup in his home country

Mary Kamikazi Bonner card

Mary Kamikazi '21

Mary Kamikazi earned the prestigious Rangel Fellowship, a highly competitive award for individuals interested in foreign service and diplomacy

How to Apply


Apply for Admission

Apply by January 15. We use the Common Application exclusively, and there is no fee to apply.


Submit Candidate Form

Complete a Bonner Program Candidate Form to indicate your interest in the program.


Interview Process

Upon review, finalists will be invited to participate in a virtual interview process with Bonner Program staff members and student leaders.

Frequently Asked Questions

Eligible students demonstrate financial need as determined by the FAFSA. The Bonner Program includes Bonner Scholars who demonstrate high financial need by having a Student Aid Index (SAI) of less than $15,000 and Bonner Leaders who qualify for Federal Work Study. Domestic students are eligible for these opportunities. United States citizenship is not required. International students who will be studying at Centre on a student visa are not eligible for this program.

To nominate a student use the Centre College Scholarship Nomination Form. Check “Special Scholarships” in the form to reveal the Bonner Program. Acceptable nominators include: school counselor, core course teacher, community-based organization liaison, employer, or independent college counselor who can attest to the student’s qualifications.

Submit a nomination form

There are seven Common Commitments of the Bonner Program.

  1. Diversity
  2. Social Justice
  3. Civic Engagement
  4. Community Building
  5. International Perspective
  6. Wellness
  7. Spiritual Exploration

All Bonners commit to working 6-8 hours per week (120 hours per semester), attending weekly meetings, and participating fully in New Bonner orientation and All Bonner retreats. Additionally, Bonner Scholars must complete two Summers of Service.

Bonners can complete their service work at a 501(c)(3) non-profit or not-for-profit organization. The Office of Civic & Community Engagement has over 35 pre-existing partnerships with local organizations, but Bonners are able to propose new community partnerships as well. Learn more about our community partners by visiting CentreEngage, Centre’s service tracking platform.

Learn more about our community partners

For More Information