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Bonner Leaders Program

About Bonner Leaders

The Bonner Leaders Program in the Honors College at the University of Houston, is one of more than 80 schools nationwide offering developmental and educationally meaningful service opportunities for students. The program is a structured way for community members, faculty, and students to work together to respond to the economic, social, and cultural challenges affecting the quality of life in the city of Houston and the state of Texas through education, research, and service. 

The Bonner Leaders are top academic performers, but also learn by participating in the community. Through their service work, they learn leadership, teamwork, project planning, and time management. They are also exposed to how academic, civic, and budgetary processes work by writing grants, giving presentations, assessing results, and working toward efficiencies. Their successes bring skills and knowledge that last a lifetime. 

Bonners also get an intellectual foundation that supports the reasons why meaningful service is needed by taking an Introduction to Civic Engagement course in their freshman year. This course explores the causes of social and economic instabilities and encourages Bonners to develop proposals for programs that contribute to solutions.

Bonner Program: Tier One Service Learning at UH 

Bonner Projects

Bonners participate in service hours each week with the charge to win victories for the people of Houston before they graduate. Among many others, they have built educational preparatory programs at nearby schools César Chávez high school and at KIPP Intrepid and Lawson Academy middle schools, as well as addressing food insecurity in Houston by providing un-served food, recovered from UH’s dining halls, to the communities at three New Hope Housing locations in Houston. 

The Writing to Inspire Successful Education (WISE) project was developed to identify a way to help improve 7th graders’ writing skills at the KIPP Intrepid campus. The program that was developed as a result delivered online tutoring that integrates with the KIPP writing curriculum. In its first year, the program saw KIPP students’ writing test scores improve by working with the existing curriculum through collaborative intervention as well as targeted in-person tutorials and other interactions. 

Other educational programs include the Lobo Prep program at César Chávez high school, a Title I high school near the UH campus. Working with Chávez administration and teachers, the Bonner students developed an after-school SAT tutoring and preparation program for juniors and seniors where they witnessed increased SAT scores. At Lawson Academy, a public charter school in Houston’s Third Ward, Bonners have provided math tutoring for the sixth grade class. 

Another successful Bonner project includes instituting a University of Houston Campus Kitchen (UHCK) program, which delivers, and often serves, high quality meals recovered from UH’s dining halls. In partnership with the UH dining hall vendor, Aramark, UHCK delivers approximately 250 pounds of un-served food each week to nearly 500 residents at New Hope Housing, which offers affordable, permanent housing for people who live on very limited incomes, at three locations. In the 2015-2016 academic year, UHCK delivered more than 16,000 meals to residents at New Hope.

Campus Kitchen Serves the Underserved 

Bonner Leaders have also worked closely with other partners in the Houston area, including METRO, Habitat for Humanity, and the Houston Department of Health and Human Services.

Awards and Recognition

The UH Bonners have garnered a high level of success, receiving recognition and awards for the projects they have founded. In February 2016, the University of Houston System Board of Regents presented the Regents’ Academic Excellence Award to the Bonner Program. This award recognizes the public service that Bonners do in the community as it continues to build the service-learning culture in the Honors College and at the University of Houston. 

During the 2014-2015 academic year, the UH Bonner Leaders became the first team in Texas ever to win the Resolution Project Social Venture Challenge at the annual Clinton Global Initiative University (CGIU) event. In 2016, a second team also won at CGIU, securing seed money for a new summer program that works to counter summer learning loss among low-income middle-schoolers. 

To learn more about the Bonner Program, please contact: 

Shannon Keen
Director of Service Learning and Student Outreach