Bonner Scholars

Since 1992, the Bonner Scholars Program has supported a growing spirit of service at Rhodes, helping us move from a strong history of volunteerism towards campus-wide service based learning, civic engagement, and community based advocacy.

Rhodes is part of a national consortium of Bonner Scholars, an innovative and pioneering program for scholarship and community service, initiated at Rhodes in 1992 by the Corella and Bertram F. Bonner Foundation of Princeton, NJ. The Bonner Scholarship is for entering students who have a passion for service and social justice, and who require financial assistance in order to attend Rhodes. An application for the Bonner Scholarship is available through the Office of Admissions.

Along with Bonner Scholar Programs at Berea, Morehouse, Spelman, Davidson, Antioch, Oberlin, DePauw, Warren Wilson, Earlham, Wofford, Maryville, University of Richmond and other colleges, Rhodes offers up to 15 four-year service scholarships to entering students who have financial need and an exceptional commitment to serving in the community.

The Bonner Scholarship at Rhodes includes an educational stipend of $2,500/year paid directly to the student, along with an annual fellowship of $10,000. Bonner Scholars also receive a $5,000 fund to carry out two summer service projects in Memphis or anywhere in the world, and a $2,000 loan-reduction award is available upon graduation. With Bonner support, students who have high financial need can pursue their passions for service and civic engagement without being obligated to part-time jobs. The Bonner Scholarship is currently awarded to more than 1,500 students at 25 colleges and universities nationwide.

As part of their commitment to change-based service, Bonner Scholars often emerge as leaders on campus and in the Memphis community, especially through the Kinney Program, Rhodes Student Government and Honor Council, the Black Student Association, Habitat for Humanity, Earth Justice, local hunger programs and urban ministries, and in peace and justice initiatives. 
Common Commitments of the Bonner Program: 
The Bonner Program has identified six common commitments in service. These common commitments serve as a guide for helping us deepen our service experiences and become more effective agents of change.

  • Social Justice: Advocating for fairness, impartiality and equality while addressing systemic social and environmental issues.
  • Civic Engagement: Participating intentionally as a citizen in the democratic process, actively engaging in public policy and direct services.
  • Community-Building: Establishing and sustaining a vibrant community of place, personal relationships and common interests.
  • Spiritual Exploration: Exploring personal beliefs, values and spirituality encountered in service and leadership while respecting the practices of others.
  • International Understanding: Developing international understanding that enables individuals to participate successfully and sensitively in a global society.
  • Diversity: Respecting and engaging the many different dimensions of diversity in our public lives.

In addition to its fellowship support, the Bonner Program has strengthened many outreach efforts at Rhodes and in Memphis, including the Kinney Program, our campus-wide service initiative. In ′96-99, the Bonner Program provided the initial support for Rhodes faculty and students to develop service-learning courses and community-based research as part of the Rhodes curriculum. Additional grants from the Bonner Foundation have supported a number of our Memphis service connections, including Souper Contact soup kitchen, the Memphis Food Bank, MIFA, Memphis City Schools, VECA, Servant Leadership programs and our Micah 6 Ministries.