For The Mountain Advocate
Jodi Carroll, Director of Union College’s Center for Civic Engagement and Marie Webster, Executive of Clearfork Community Institute, presented a workshop at the fall Bonner Directors and Coordinators Meeting & Assessment Institute. The Institute was hosted by the Corella & Bertram F. Bonner Foundation. The workshop was titled “Rural Disadvantage; Bonner Impact” and was inspired by the noticeable and disproportionate lack of resources for individuals living in extremely rural locations.
William P. O’Hare of the Carsey Institute describes this issue in “The Forgotten Fifth; Child Poverty in Rural America.”
O’Hare says, “Poor children living in rural America face significant educational, social, and economic challenges; but many of these problems are exacerbated by the isolation and limited access to support services common in rural areas. The urban focus of welfare programs means policy makers shortchange needy rural families when designing and implementing the safety net.”
Union College and Clearfork Community Institute have partnered with the Bonner Foundation to develop programming in which Bonner students will address the socio-economic problems associated with rural America. Participants in the workshop represented colleges and universities across the United States at which Bonner students receive community service scholarships.
Participants contributed to the early discussion of ideas to increase high school graduation and college attendance among the children most disadvantaged by this phenomenon. Development is underway for a year round mentoring program that will include Union College Bonner Leader students. The program will also include other Bonner students from around the country.
Faculty from Union College, as well as other institutions, will have an opportunity to develop and oversee research and other academic work of students involved in this project. One of the first communities to receive this programming will be the Clearfork Valley of Tennessee which is near the birthplace of Mrs. Corella Bonner.
To learn more about Union’s Bonner Leader program, visit www.unionky.edu/service or contact Jodi Carroll at firstname.lastname@example.org.