CIC Awards National Venture Fund Grants to Six State Councils

CIC recently announced the six recipients of the 2018–2019 National Venture Fund grants. One of four competitive grant programs for State Councils, the National Venture Fund grants fund projects that promote collaboration among State Council member colleges, address pressing needs in independent higher education, and leverage awards for state-based fundraising. The awardees have six months to raise at a minimum one-to-one matching funds, and an additional 12 months to complete the proposed projects.

Carol Schuler, CIC vice president for State Council programs, noted: “The National Venture Fund grant program provides valuable support for innovative projects that benefit the majority of private colleges and universities that belong to a recipient State Council. Individual institutions benefit from the grants through membership in a CIC State Council and provide key leadership in developing successful projects in coordination with their respective State Council.”  

For the 2018–2019 grant program cycle, a total of $128,710 will support the following projects:

Associated College of Illinois (ACI) will launch a Career Mentoring Program to facilitate the smooth transition of students attending ACI member colleges and universities from their college to their professional careers. Through a structured mentoring experience, the ACI project will help prepare students for professional, post-graduation employment; employ strategies for a successful transition from college to career; and take steps toward financial stability. The program will give students an opportunity to develop mentoring relationships with successful business professionals who can coach them on career development, networking, interpersonal skills, business etiquette, and effective job searches. The program builds on ACI’s career pathway initiatives, which include a Career and Internship Fair; the Skills for Work, Skills for Life Boot Camps; and the Jobs and Internships Board on ACI’s website.

Iowa College Foundation (ICF) will strengthen enrollment at member institutions through a Recruitment through Technology Program. Drawing on ICF’s corporate relationships, the program will address challenges of ICF member colleges and universities to recruit students and Iowa corporations and businesses to recruit qualified interns and employees. ICF will create robust online portals focused on college going, internships, and employment opportunities. They will be developed cooperatively by member institution presidents and admissions and development staff, Iowa corporate and business leaders, and high school counselors.

Independent College Fund of Maryland (MICUA I-Fund) will improve college access and degree completion by Baltimore City students through a collaborative initiative with private corporations and foundations, I-Fund member institutions, and the CollegeBound Foundation. The project will increase the number of low-income Baltimore City public school students who enroll at an I-Fund member institution by expanding public and private grants and scholarships, and by providing access to college preparation and advising services through a partnership with CollegeBound. CollegeBound is a community-serving, nonprofit program that has school-based, college-access specialists working directly with Baltimore City public school students to assist in the college admission process.

Michigan Colleges Alliance (MCA) will expand the Independent Innovators Network to support student entrepreneurs from member private colleges and universities and their faculty mentors to create businesses and social ventures. The MCA project will promote collaboration and social learning opportunities for student-faculty teams to sharpen concepts for product development; make venture funds available to develop business plans for concepts that are judged market-ready; foster a culture of entrepreneurship across a collaborative network of liberal arts institutions; and showcase to external stakeholders the relevancy of liberal arts learning to business development. The project will be conducted in partnership with the Henry Ford Learning Institute. Teams will receive management coaching from leaders at the institute and an opportunity to apply for funding to take their ideas from concept to market.  

North Carolina Independent Colleges and Universities (NCICU) will bring together library directors and chief academic officers from NCICU’s 36 member institutions to develop ideas and long-term support for sharing library services and resources used by nearly 90,000 students, faculty, staff, and community members at NCICU campuses. The planning session will determine cost-sharing opportunities across institutions and identify the tools and staff skills needed to improve efficiency and access to collections across North Carolina. The project will build on preliminary work by more than 60 librarians and will result in an operational plan and a sustainable funding model for the NCICU Library Collaborative.

Virginia Foundation for Independent Colleges (VFIC) will host the Starting Now: Women’s Leadership Summit for VFIC Students, a three-day event to help women who are rising juniors and seniors at VFIC institutions cultivate leadership skills to assume positions of authority in both their professional and personal lives. The project ultimately aims to increase representation of women in corporate C-suites and on boards. By creating a forum to discuss women and leadership, and by encouraging participants to develop strategies for effecting change, the summit will nurture confidence to embrace leadership opportunities. The summit also will help students practice “the socialization of leadership”—sharing ideas, developing strategies, encouraging growth, and instilling confidence. Women at VFIC colleges will be selected through a competitive process that assesses leadership skills demonstrated on campus or in the community.

“The six selected projects leverage the strength of state councils to lead collaborative projects and enhance opportunities for private college students,” added Schuler. “The review committee was particularly supportive of proposals that emphasized college-to-career transitions. It is CIC’s hope that many of these National Venture Fund projects will serve as models for the network.”

For additional information about CIC’s State Councils grant programs, contact Carol Schuler at