Bonner Scholars
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Mission and History

The Berry College Bonner Scholars Program exits to transform the lives of high financial need students, their campuses, local communities, and the nation by providing access to education and an opportunities to serve.

Begun in 1990 by The Corella and Bertram F. Bonner Foundation, the Bonner Scholars Program is one of the largest privately funded service scholarship programs in the nation. The program's mission is to make college available to individuals who are unable to afford an education due to financial restraints, to provide for those students academic support, and to give scholarship recipients opportunities to serve their college communities in lasting and meaningful ways. Currently at 24 institutions of higher learning in the Southeast and Midwest, more than 1,500 students are Bonner Scholars and are "changing the world through service."

In 1991, Berry College became one of the first institutions to participate in the Bonner Scholars Program. Over the last seventeen years, over 300 students have served the Rome-Floyd County community in over 80 local agencies. During the 2007-2008 academic term, Bonner Scholars gave no less than 21,000 hours to at-risk children and teenagers, the physically and mentally disabled, the elderly, the hungry and homeless, and the environment. Allowing scholars to choose projects that accommodate their varying interests and skills, a variety of service opportunities are available to Berry students. Through the Bonner Scholars Program, Berry College students are becoming leaders in the service movement by raising awareness levels on campus, encouraging peers to give their time, and visioning and implementing solutions to issues facing our nation.

As stated earlier, Bonner Scholars Program candidates must demonstrate financial need. They must also exhibit good citizenship and a commitment to serving others as well as maintain a strong academic record.  Bonner Scholars are required to serve an average of 10 hours a week in the community. Students also participate in summer community service internships across the Southeast, the nation, and the world. At Berry, Bonner Scholars are supported for four years of their undergraduate education through Foundation funds, institutional funds, and subsidized governmental loans. Moreover, Berry Bonner Scholars are eligible to earn additional education awards through their participation in the Bonner AmeriCorps Program. The future of the Bonner Scholars Program was guaranteed when, in 1995, Berry along with six other institutions was awarded a $4.92 million endowment. Additionally, as a stipulation of the endowment, Berry College solicited another $1 million for support of the Bonner Scholars Program.

Berry College has a rich tradition of service to others. In 1902, college founder Martha Berry established the institution to help children and young adults from the rural mountains of Georgia and Alabama better themselves through education. Just as Martha Berry became an activist in her era, so too, the Berry College Bonner Scholars are "changing the world through service." Perhaps no other program at Berry better illustrates the college motto, "Not to be ministered unto, but to minister."

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