Our Mission

Through sustained partnerships with colleges and congregations, the Corella and Bertram F. Bonner Foundation seeks to improve the lives of individuals and communities by helping meet the basic needs of nutrition and educational opportunity.

Our Approach

While we are a small family funded foundation and nonprofit organization, our work and approach are not conventional. Rather than focus on short-term initiatives and grants for individual projects, we work as a national network and community of practice to advance higher education through its engagement within communities. Since 1990, we have built and sustained partnerships with colleges and universities to foster the deep integration of college access, diversity and inclusion, and student success with community engagement and learning. We see ourselves as an organization that provides research and development for the civic engagement field, in ways that promote its depth, sustainability, and value to colleges and communities.

To do this, the Foundation focuses on the development and management of the Bonner Scholars Program and Bonner Leaders Program. To date, Bonner Programs have graduated more than 15,000 alumni across our national network. Each year, these programs, offered by more than 60 colleges and universities, engage more than 3,000 undergraduates in a four-year developmental experience of service and learning. 

The Bonner Program provides colleges and universities with a model for a college access program that uses best practices for student success.  Our network focuses on identifying and supporting low-income, first generation, and underrepresented students, including students of color and from both rural and urban environments. With student leadership at the core, the model improves the lives of people and communities through sustained partnerships involving colleges and universities in service, community engaged learning, and civic engagement. 

Our Values and Beliefs


The Bonner Foundation

  • believes that colleges and congregations have vital roles to play in society in nurturing and mobilizing thoughtful, caring, and diverse leadership dedicated to community service.
  • recognizes that often the best way to help someone is to give them the opportunity to help themselves, and that the people best able to address a problem are the people whom it most directly affects.
  • recognizes that effective community service programs involve all stakeholders in their leadership.
  • creates innovative programs that have the potential to serve as models for the field. 


Core Values

Additionally, a number of core values have been at the basis of the Bonner Scholar and Leader Program model and other initiatives since its 1990 founding and remain today, even as our programs and agendas for campus and community have become more complex. 

Our approach to civic learning and community engagement is inclusive and integrative. At the core, we believe in educating the whole person, and that learning occurs in multiple contexts and developmentally over time. Learning doesn’t stop at graduation, and neither does our work. Our Common Commitments express the values we explore and share as an organization, national network, and community of practice:

  • Civic Engagement: exploring and participating intentionally in multiple forms and dimensions of engagement including service, political engagement, social action, and public policy;
  • Community Building: creating and sustaining a vibrant community of place, personal relationships, and shared interests
  • Diversity: respecting the many different dimensions of personal and group identities (such as class, gender, race, ethnicity, religion, physical and mental ability) and creating opportunities to dialogue and learn across them
  • International Perspective: developing international and global understanding that enable individuals to participate successfully in an increasingly interconnected world, appreciate and transcend national boundaries
  • Social Justice: understand and advocate for fairness, impartiality, and equity in addressing systemic social and environmental issues
  • Spiritual Exploration: reflect on and explore personal beliefs while respecting the spiritual and ethical practices and values of others
  • Wellness: nurturing the development, resilience, thriving and sustenance of the whole person and of communities


Financial Report: 990PF