Averett University Receives Major Gift for Experiential Learning and Community Service from Bonner Foundation

Posted on April 6th, 2023 by Cassie Jones

Averett University recently secured a three-year enrichment grant from The Corella & Bertram F. Bonner Foundation in Princeton, New Jersey that will provide the Averett Bonner Leader Program $40,000 annually.

Averett’s four-year intensive leadership program places students in the community to serve in a capacity building role for their designated organization. Currently, 36 Averett students in the program are placed across 19 non-profits and government agencies throughout the Dan River Region.

“The Bonner Foundation reached out to encourage our application for this grant because of the quality of the service work in which our students have been engaged,” said Averett Bonner Leader Program Director April Love-Loveless. “We were honored and humbled that they chose our program because of the capacity building work our students provide to the local community. I could not be more proud of my Bonners,” she continued.

Bonner Leaders work 200 hours per academic year and receive financial compensation for their service, as well as professional development opportunities throughout the year. At the end of their service term, they complete a capstone project for which they design a research project that produces materials to help sustain their respective agency after they leave.

“This new grant funding will allow us to come closer to our goal of expanding the program to 60+ Bonners and doubling the impact we have on our region,” said Dr. Billy Wooten, dean of engaged learning and executive director of the Center for Community Engagement and Career Competitiveness, where the Averett Bonner Leader Program is housed.

The grant funds will be used to enhance Averett’s program and participant outcomes by:

  • Providing Bonner Leaders with more leadership and networking opportunities with industry leaders;
  • Engaging students in a first-year service trip where they serve and learn about communities in other areas;
  • Creating a summer service internship program where Bonners partner with local nonprofits other than their chosen four-year site; and,
  • Offering professional development opportunities to community partner site supervisors.

“One long-term vision for Averett’s Bonner Leaders is to model leadership potential and experiential learning beyond the Bonner Program, and to show all students at Averett that they can be social change agents in our region,” said Love-Loveless.

Since its inception in 2017, 81 students have participated in the Averett Bonner Leader Program.

“We could not be more grateful to the Bonner Foundation for its generous investment and continued partnership with Averett University,” said Averett President Dr. Tiffany M. Franks. “These financial contributions will enable even more deep and lasting opportunities for Averett students to embody the university’s mission of creating positive change in the communities we serve.”