First Opportunity Partners Grants Support Diversity Programs in Three States

This fall, CIC awarded grants to three State Councils to improve access to independent colleges and universities and provide resources to enhance student success. Thanks to the support of the UPS Foundation, the 2017–2018 First Opportunity Partners grants will help State Councils in Illinois, Texas, and Washington serve first-generation, minority, low-income, or new American students. All awards will be matched by additional funds raised by the selected State Councils.

The projects to receive First Opportunity Partners grants follow:

The Associated Colleges of Illinois (ACI) Peer Mentoring Program will expand to reach 11 campuses and will add a qualitative research component to the project design for the 2018–2019 academic year. On average, campuses that participated in ACI’s peer mentoring program in 2015–2016 experienced a 96 percent retention rate of first-year students, an encouraging outcome for at-risk students. The program has attracted significant donor support.  

Independent Colleges and Universities of Texas Foundation will use the grant to launch a Texas Private College Week that will create additional opportunities for member institutions to connect with underserved students. The project will include a comprehensive public relations and marketing campaign as well as online registration for students.

Independent Colleges of Washington (ICW) will use the grant to tackle an unprecedented gap in funding for ICW’s matched college savings program, which lost federal support for 2018–2019. ICW will use the CIC matching grant to stimulate private giving to its “Rise Up!” program that promotes economic self-sufficiency and college access among low-income, first-generation students saving for college.

For more information about CIC’s state council grant programs, email Carol Schuler, vice president for state council programs (, or Vanessa Long, manager of State Council programs (