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Bonner Scholars Program

Bonner Scholar Program

The Bonner Scholar program was founded in 1990 with a goal of increasing the access of low-income students to a quality college education while also transforming students, communities and campuses through service. Students serve and learn by working in cohorts made up of 20 fellow Bonner Scholar in each class. Bonner Scholar cohorts receive leadership training while working on projects in the neighborhood or abroad. Students become, in effect, part of a service-learning community designed to strengthen human communities, meet individual and social needs, promote intercultural literacy and enhance their development as leaders, citizens and neighbors.

Once accepted, Bonner Scholar commit to a series of expectations:

  • Complete 140 hours of combined direct service, training, meetings and leadership development sessions per semester
  • Maintain a 2.5 GPA at the end of each academic year
  • Reside in the first-year Bonner Living and Learning Community
  • Participate in the First Year Bonner Service Trip – one week (typically during spring break) 
  • Complete two summers of full-time service with a nonprofit or government organization following their first and second year in the Bonner Scholar Program. One of the two summers can be filled with a research position.
  • Create and implement a culminating individual or team community-based Capstone Project during the junior and senior years

Students are required to maintain at least a 2.5 GPA for the entirety of their undergraduate career. Not maintaining the required grade point average will result in dismissal from the program and loss of any accompanying financial aid. All students are reviewed each semester to ensure that their academic and general collegiate performance, including conduct, is in keeping with the expectations of the program. Students found deficient will not be eligible to continue in the program. Students must complete the junior/senior Capstone Project in order to graduate as a Bonner Scholar and receive recognition upon graduation.

Becoming a Bonner Scholar

The Bonner Scholar Program is a vehicle allowing students to dedicate themselves not only to service, but to making connections between community experiences and academic pursuits. The program is designed to identify qualified, service-oriented students and provide financial assistance commensurate to student need as defined by the Estimated Family contribution (EFC) on the Federal Application for Student Aid (FAFSA). This enables selected students to serve others, while receiving leadership development training, academic support and enrichment opportunities to encourage their success at Spelman and completion of requirements to earn their college degrees.

The program provides a structured developmental progression to encourage students to develop leadership ability and expertise that can be applied to a chosen career path. A student who takes part in the Bonner Scholar Program must be willing and able to make a significant commitment to service and community engagement throughout their college career. Bonner Scholars commit to carry out an average of 10 hours of service per week during the school year for four years, perform at least two full-time summers of service, and participate in trainings and meetings as required. In return, students receive individualized financial aid to help with college expenses and a network of support.

Apply for the Bonner Scholar Program

The Bonner Scholar Program application will open on February 1, 2024.

Applications received after March 1, 2024, will be reviewed on a rolling basis.

View the Bonner Scholar Program Application



  • Demonstrated passion for civic engagement and community service
  • Acceptance to Spelman College Class of 2028**
  • Financial need as demonstrated by an Estimated Family Contribution (EFC) of $10,000 or less***
  • Submitted a Federal Application for Student Financial Aid (FASFA)


* Applications submitted without a letter of acceptance from the Spelman College Office of Admissions will not be read.

** Students interested in applying for the Bonner Scholar Program are encouraged to submit their application to Spelman during the Early Decision period (Nov. 1 application deadline with Dec.15 notification) or Early Action period (Nov. 15 deadline with Dec. 31 notification).

*** The Bonner Scholar Program was created to provide college access for students who could not otherwise afford it. In recognition of this intent the majority of students admitted to each cohort will have an EFC of $10,000 or less. There are a limited number of spots in each cohort for students who have EFCs exceeding this amount. Applications submitted without a copy of a financial aid letter from Spelman College will not be read.

Contact Us

Bonner Office of Civic Engagement
350 Spelman Lane S.W.
Box 1543
Atlanta, GA 30314

Campus Location
Manley Student Center, Upper Level

Connect With Us

Bonner Office of Civic Engagement on Facebook Spelman Serves Instagram