CNU Bonner Service Scholars

The Bonner Program is a four-year, developmental program that educates, equips, and inspires students to engage with our local community and beyond. Through a partnership with the prestigious Corella and Bertram F. Bonner Foundation, Christopher Newport belongs to a national network of more than 75 colleges and universities who support four-year, service scholarships.

Bonner Service Scholars are placed on small, site-based teams and serve at least 10 hours each week during the school year, for a combined total of more than 300 hours each year. In addition to direct service, Bonners participate in program development, policy research, national conferences, skills trainings, and other development activities.

For more information, contact Vanessa Buehlman, Bonner Program Director at, or click here to go to the CNU Bonner website.

The 2022 Bonner Application will open soon. The deadline is TBA.


Due to the challenges of serving during COVID-19, the following policies have been implemented for students working toward graduating with Service Distinction Honors:

  • Students may complete hours in any service track
  • Service hours may be completed anywhere (locally, at home, etc.) and may be completed remotely or in-person
  • Students may complete community engagement training and enrichment (T&E) activities to supplement hours. Developed by the Center for Community Engagement, these activities inform and support community work by looking at a variety of issues and subject areas.

REMEMBER: All hours should be logged in your CNU Engage account!

Visit the Service Distinction & COVID-19 page for more details. Please contact the Center at 757-594-7233 or at with any questions.


Follow these three steps to graduate with Service Distinction Honors:

  1. Create a cnuengage account to be automatically enrolled in the Service Distinction program

  2. Download the “Service Distinction Requirements” and/or “Service Distinction Leader Requirements” 

  3. Enjoy the benefits of graduating with Service Distinction Honors!

  • Service Distinction Ceremony prior to graduation

  • Certificate of accomplishment, SD T-shirt, graduation tassel (double tassel for SD Leaders), and CNU Engage Lapel Pin

  • Honors at graduation

  • Ability to include service distinction honors on resumes and graduate school applications – service distinction demonstrates dedication, active citizenship, and commitment to community engagement.

For more information, check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

CNU’s Service Distinction Program

Your guide to realizing the power of purposeful community engagement!

Take your volunteer work to the next level . . . Amplify your education . . . Make a meaningful impact in the community

What is Service Distinction?

Moving beyond the “one-time volunteerism” model, the Service Distinction (SD) program provides a framework to establish deep and beneficial relationships between the local community and CNU students.

The Service Distinction Program encourages dedicated, consistent service that allows CNU students to:

  • Participate in higher level, more satisfying work than one-time volunteering provides;
  • Gain valuable, real-world, marketable skills and experience; and
  • Develop skills related to policy development, program planning, and advocacy, while gaining a deeper understanding of societal issues and root causes.

Students can earn two different levels of Service Distinction Honors:

01. Service Distinction

Students serve a minimum of 140 hours, perform the majority of their hours (at least 100) within one of CNU’s ten Service Tracks, and are encouraged to partner with one local non-profit organization to both provide and gain the most benefit from the program. For a detailed list of program requirements, download Service Distinction Requirements.

02. Service Distinction Leader

Students serve a minimum of 400 hours, perform the majority of their hours (at least 250) within one of CNU’s ten Service Tracks, and are encouraged to partner with one local non-profit organization to both provide and gain the most benefit from the program. For a detailed list of program requirements, download SD Leader Honors Requirements.

Ferguson Fellowship for Social EntrepreneurSHIP

“Social entrepreneurs” are unique people who see a problem and imagine a solution: “Just as entrepreneurs change the face of business, social entrepreneurs act as the change agents for society, seizing opportunities others miss and improving systems, inventing new approaches, and creating solutions to change society for the better” (Ashoka).

Each academic year, the Center for Community Engagement funds up to 10 Ferguson Fellowships for students interested in addressing a community need by:

  • Researching a community issue or problem of importance;

  • Designing a plan of action to address the problem in a new or unique way;

  • Implementing the plan in a specific community; and

  • Participating in a CNU community service showcase (held at the end of the Spring semester).

Students in all majors and at all levels are encouraged to apply their academic knowledge, creativity and vision to solving some of the pressing problems of our day.  Ideally, the project will grow out of a student’s academic work in a service learning course or through a volunteer experience in a specific community. Projects should address a real community need and offer an innovative, feasible and well-researched solution to that need. Although most projects will be local, the Center also will consider proposals whose scope is national or global.


Successful proposals must include the following:

  • Partnership with a faculty mentor who agrees to provide project guidance.

  • Collaboration with a community partner, if available.

  • Project sustainability – If you are developing a project or program that requires effort beyond the scope of your Fellowship, discuss how project sustainability will be addressed.

For additional information on proposal requirements, download:

“Ferguson Fellowships – Call for Proposals” and

“Ferguson Fellowships – A Guide to Writing the Proposal”

Students will receive a $1,000 stipend to research and execute their project and faculty mentors will receive a $500 stipend for project mentorship.  Funding is also available (upon request) for project implementation expenses, such as program supplies, travel, fees, services (printing, building rental, etc.).

Download application materials at: Ferguson Fellowship Student Application

Applications may be submitted at any time.  Projects will be evaluated and awarded on a rolling basis.

For more information, contact:

Dr. Elizabeth Gagnon

Dr. Elizabeth Gagnon

Director of Ferguson Fellowships and the Minor in Civic Engagement and Social Entrepreneurship

Jessica Deal

Jessica Deal

Community Engagement Coordinator, Center for Community Engagement