Grounded in TCNJ’s mission to “empower its diverse students, staff, and faculty to sustain and enhance their communities,” as well as TCNJ’s commitment to the public purpose of higher education, TCNJ’s Center for Community Engagement develops lifelong learners who are prepared to lead lives that are critically informed through community and civic engagement.
We do this by delivering educational experiences, service opportunities, and critical reflection that connect TCNJ students and faculty with community members and organizations in reciprocal collaborations. These collaborations enhance the ability of participants and organizations to understand and address the contexts and causes of social injustices and community-identified concerns.
The Center for Community Engagement is proud of the influence it has had on the academics of TCNJ and on the Trenton community. See our Impact page to learn more.
In 2004, the Bonner Center for Civic and Community Engagement was established to house the Bonner Community Scholars program. In 2006, the BonnerCenter took on the coordination of the First-year CEL requirement (FYCEL) and began integrating the Bonner Community Scholars program with FYCEL management. During this time, the Bonner Community Scholars Program was reoriented towards cultivating and supporting a diverse student body through recruitment. Moreover, the program has since been organized into student-led teams addressing specific community needs in collaboration with community partners. Center staff now organize and lead FYCEL activities, and work First Seminar Program faculty to incorporate FYCEL components into their curriculum. Since 2010, CCE staff have also supported Advanced CEL (ACEL) course components.
In the summer of 2012, the Center for Community Engaged Learning and Research was created to house the Bonner Institute, consisting of the Bonner Community Scholars and First Year CEL programs, and other community engaged-related programs and initiatives. In 2014, community engaged learning was recognized as a Signature Experience of the college. In April, 2015, the Bonner Community Scholars Program celebrated its 10th year at the College. As a consequence of these and TCNJ’s additional community engagement-focused programs, in 2015 TCNJ received the Community Engagement Classification from the Carnegie Foundation, a distinction shared by only 360 other colleges and universities nationwide.
In 2020, the Center changed its name from the Center for Community Engaged Learning and Research (CELR) to the Center for Community Engagement (CCE). Through this transition, the Bonner Institute and CEL Institute, as components of the Center, distinguished the programming that each Institute manages.