|Bonner Grants Empower Students to Initiate Community Service Projects
December 03, 2008
by Zach Bennett ‘11
Davidson students have received a total of $5,000 in grants from the Bonner Community Fund to make learning more accessible for school children in Charlotte, run an educational stock exchange at the Ada Jenkins Community Center, build a labyrinth on campus, and help area Latinas develop professional skills.
The seven-member Bonner Community Fund steering committee recently funded these four projects that best fit its mission “to encourage students to combine the values of service, leadership, and scholarship towards efforts to improve both Davidson and the Charlotte area.”
Steering committee chair Rishonda Thomas ’09 said a total of seven individuals and student groups applied for the annual funding.
Grantees Olivia Jones ’09 and Mary La Montagne ’09 will use their award for “Davidson Teaches,” which will bring together students from Davidson College and the KIPP (Knowledge is Power Program) Academy in Charlotte through educational workshops. Jones and La Montagne hope to make learning more accessible to students by, for example, using slam poetry to teach English, doing an egg drop to teach physics, and holding a historical debate to teach history.
Ebony Harley ’09 received a grant to run an “educational stock exchange” for elementary school students in the Ada Jenkins Community Center after-school program. In a two-week simulation ,Harley, an economics major, will teach the schoolchildren about saving and investing. Each student will begin with the same amount of money, and have the opportunity to save or invest it.
Lauren Cunningham ’09 will use her Bonner award to help fund a labyrinth in Hobart Park on the Davidson College campus. Cunningham explained, “The primary reason is to promote wellness on campus. Students seeking a place to relax or reflect will be able to walk the labyrinth 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. I am personally excited to use the labyrinth for problem solving, because I know that I think best when mobile.”
Steering committee chair Rishonda Thomas added that this effort to involve the community in active meditation coincides with the Bonner Program’s commitment to “spiritual exploration.”
Jessica Gallegos ’11 will apply her grant to the Latina Empowerment Achievement and Development (LEAD) program, to help local Latinas build professional skills. The program will provide business suits to women interviewing for professional jobs, teach job-seeking skills and hold mock interviews, for example.
Thomas explained that the grant recipients will submit reports to the steering committee describing the results of their projects, and deliver presentations to the Class of 2012 Bonner Scholars. Thomas said the presentations should be inspirational, and give the new class of Bonners ideas for their own community service projects.
Since 1991, the Bonner Foundation has provided four-year community service scholarships to 20 Davidson students in each class. This competitive scholarship is designed to heighten the overall education that Bonner Scholars receive by asking students to engage in ongoing service work and helping them develop the tools and the knowledge necessary to make that work meaningful and lasting. The Bonner Foundation also endows the Bonner Community Fund, which provided the grants. The current administrator of the program at Davidson is Kristin Booher, director of the Bonner Scholars Program.
Thomas said this year’s grant application process was more competitive than in the past. Applicants submitted proposals that “ranged from supporting organizations that already exist to creating new organizations,” Thomas said.
Thomas said she found the grant-giving process very rewarding because it taught her about the philanthropic side of service. She said, “Theoretically, you could say we’re philanthropists even though the money comes from someone else.” She also encouraged students to apply for grant money next semester.
Davidson is a highly selective independent liberal arts college for 1,700 students located 20 minutes north of Charlotte in Davidson, N.C. Since its establishment in 1837 by Presbyterians, the college has graduated 23 Rhodes Scholars and is consistently regarded as one of the top liberal arts colleges in the country. Through The Davidson Trust, the college became the first liberal arts institution in the nation to replace loans with grants in all financial aid packages, giving all students the opportunity to graduate debt-free. Davidson competes in NCAA athletics at the Division I level, and a longstanding Honor Code is central to student life at the college.
Posted By: Bill Giduz