First Opportunity Partners Program Awards $100,000 to Four State Councils

​CIC recently announced the awarding of four First Opportunity Partners grants to CIC State Councils in Illinois, Michigan, New Jersey, and Virginia. The grants support consortial projects designed to enhance the success of low-income, first-generation, minority, and new American students at independent colleges and universities. In announcing the awards in October, CIC President Richard Ekman said, “The awards recognize the innovation, collaboration, and new opportunities that applicants’ programs will provide to these students.” All awards will be matched by additional funds raised by the selected State Councils.

The projects selected to receive grants of $20,000 to $37,500 follow:

The Associated Colleges of Illinois (ACI) will expand and enhance its Peer Mentoring Program by providing professional development opportunities to campus coordinators who are minority, low-income, or first-generation upper-class students working to enhance retention of similar first-year students at nine ACI member institutions.

The Michigan Colleges Alliance (MCA) will expand its highly successful Third90 Network and STEM learning initiative for minority and first-generation high school students in a region of critical importance to MCA student recruitment goals.

The Independent College Fund of New Jersey will build a deeper partnership between the workplace and independent higher education by creating experiential learning opportunities for students and engaging business partners in a dialogue about workforce development with member institutions.

The Virginia Foundation for Independent Colleges (VFIC) will partner with the Virginia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce to increase the enrollment of college-ready Hispanic students at VFIC member colleges through organized campus visits over a three-year period.

The First Opportunity Partners grant program is one of four annual competitive grant programs CIC provides to State Councils. Other programs include Capacity Building grants ($100,000 available), National Venture Fund grants ($200,000 available), and Scholarship Challenge grants ($200,000 available). For more information on CIC State Council grants, email Carol Schuler, vice president for State Council Programs (, or Vanessa Long, manager of State Council Programs (

Gary Lee Scholarship

Presenter speaks from the podium with a three presenters seated at the head table beside her
Retired UPS Foundation executive Mr. Gary Lee and his wife, Lucy, (third and fourth from left) presented the Gary Lee Scholarship to education major Chelsi George (fifth from left) and her family at Young Harris College (GA). The families were joined by Young Harris faculty and administrators, including President Cathy Cox (far right).