State Councils Update: CIC Awards Scholarships and Grants; Annual Conference Explores ‘The Power of Partnerships’

CIC/UPS Scholarships

Since 1985, the UPS Scholarship Program has provided scholarships worth nearly $56 million to CIC State Councils, which have supported more than 20,000 students. In July 2018, CIC awarded CIC/UPS Scholarships of $1,632,000 for distribution through the State Councils, providing a $3,000 scholarship to one student at each of 544 institutions in the 27 states where CIC has State Council members.

“The 2018–2019 scholarship stipend is higher than it has been in the past 15 years,” said Carol Schuler, vice president for state council programs. “The amount reflects favorable results from the CIC/UPS Educational Endowment, as well as a commitment on the part of CIC to make private colleges and universities more affordable for first-generation, low-income, minority, or new American students.”

The scholarships vary in size from year to year, largely based on investment returns. It is the first time since 2003 that the scholarship has reached the $3,000 level.

Scholarship Challenge Grants

CIC recently awarded Scholarship Challenge Grants to four State Councils as conditional matching support for fundraising campaigns during the 2018–2019 fiscal year that will raise scholarships for returning students at private colleges and universities. Designed to help State Councils attract new donors or increase gifts, the matching grants are projected to raise $325,000 for students at 57 institutions during the 2019–2020 academic year. The grants include a range of approaches to increase private support for student scholarships.

The Council of Independent Nebraska Colleges Foundation (CINCF) will launch a new strategy for fundraising with its 2018–2019 campaign, drawing on volunteers and special events led by its new president, Dennis Joslin. CINCF anticipates that the successful campaign will provide nearly $11,000 in new scholarship funds to every CINCF member institution.

Missouri Colleges Fund (MCF) will focus on raising gifts for its First Opportunity STEM Scholars Program. With a decline in the number of corporations with headquarters in Missouri, MCF President Mike Backer and his board will challenge donors to help first-generation students succeed in STEM programs at MCF institutions, which serve a higher percentage of first-generation students than Missouri’s public institutions.

Oregon Alliance of Independent Colleges and Universities will introduce a Target Industry Program to increase the number of named scholarship gifts from donors in the advanced manufacturing; bioscience; energy, solar, and wind; health care; and information technology sectors. The challenge grant will both attract new gifts and develop career pathways for independent college students in these five key employment sectors in Oregon.

Virginia Foundation for Independent Colleges will launch a new regional fundraising strategy that will leverage the challenge grant to expand its individual and corporate donor base, increase the size of gifts from current donors, and renew giving among lapsed donors.
For more information about CIC’s State Councils grant programs, contact Carol Schuler at

State Councils Annual Conference

Exploring the theme, “The Power of Partnerships,” the 2018 CIC State Councils Annual Conference took place in St. Louis, Missouri, April 29–May 1. The conference examined the trends and opportunities that State Council executives face in the areas of fundraising; student enrollment; college completion initiatives; certificates, credentials, and curricular innovations; grantsmanship; and marketing. Guest speakers discussed scholarships that leverage internships and open career pathways, the rise of donor-advised funds, and corporate imperatives for funding today. State executives, state development officers, and communications staff also provided dynamic, substantive sessions and shared best practices through roundtable sessions.

State Council leaders from across the country revealed how the alliances they develop are building strategic partnerships between colleges and their students and potential funding sources. “Times have changed for our State Councils,” said Mike Backer, president of the host State Council, Missouri Colleges Fund. “When I started, you could send a letter out and get a check. No longer.”

Speakers from many states shared best practices that illustrated creative and collaborative approaches to sponsor participation in ethics bowls and other student-centered events; peer mentoring to enhance learning and graduation rates; matched college savings programs for low-income, minority students; organizing college visits; and leveraging technology to boost transfer enrollments from community colleges.

Minnesota Private College Fund President Paul Cerkvenik introduced a most successful program involving collaboration with the Mayo Clinic. Teams of students and faculty of Minnesota private colleges are chosen to assess selected ideas for new drugs, medical devices, and other approaches to medical services and treatment; ideas that Mayo Clinic staff shared for review to determine whether the ideas merit further development and implementation.

John Meslow, founder and program director of the Mayo Innovation Scholars Program, and Elizabeth Jansen, academic program director for the Mayo Innovation Scholars Program and Macalester College neuroscience professor, described how undergraduate teams of two science students, two business or economics students, and an MBA student leader and a faculty mentor have helped Mayo Clinic answer the question, “Can a Mayo innovation go ‘from bench to bedside’?” Meslow, who had a long and successful leadership career at Medtronic, Inc., has seen over 600 students from Minnesota private colleges learn from the program and offer valuable recommendations to the Mayo Clinic over the past 12 years. The collaborative program has opened new opportunities for funding and provided valuable experience for participating students.

Innovative collaborative efforts are no stranger to Michigan independent colleges either. Robert Bartlett, president of Michigan Colleges Alliance (MCA), and one of MCA’s board members, Mike Schmidt, director of Education and Global Community Development of the Ford Motor Company Fund, told conference attendees that MCA no longer talks of being in the fundraising business. “We now focus on being in the education business.” Instead of asking businesses and foundations for a gift to the annual scholarship fund, MCA looks for ways to partner with donor organizations in support of new educational opportunities like micro-credentialing programs developed by Michigan independent colleges.

Schmidt argued that businesses such as Ford need students who are steeped in the liberal arts and can bring to the work place soft skills such as critical thinking, problem solving, oral and written communication, adaptive reasoning, and collaboration. He noted: “Eighty-five percent of job success comes from having well developed soft skills and people skills. STEM skills are important but not all important. Soft skills are essential 21st-century skills.”

Other guest presenters included Frank Romeo, vice president of the UPS Foundation; Janet Bandera, director of wealth planning strategies for TIAA; and Michael Collins, senior director of endowment and foundation services for TIAA.

John Meslow and J.B. Wilson holding framed awards standing beside Carol Schuler
During the 2018 CIC State Councils Annual Conference, John Meslow, founder of the Mayo Innovation Scholars Program, received the 2018 Charles W. L. Foreman Award; and John B. Wilson, retiring president of the Independent College Fund of New Jersey, received the 2018 Distinguished Service Award. Shown here are CIC Vice President for State Council Programs Carol Schuler, Meslow, and Wilson.

During the annual conference awards dinner, CIC presented the Charles W. L. Foreman Award, which recognizes a college president or corporate trustee who has demonstrated an outstanding record of service that truly distinguishes the recipient from his or her peers in support of the mission and work of the State Councils. The 2018 recipient was John Meslow, the above mentioned founder of the Mayo Innovation Scholars Program. A board member of the Minnesota Private College Fund, Meslow and his family also created the Meslow First Generation Scholarship Program to support students at all Minnesota private colleges and universities.

Also at the awards dinner, CIC presented the CIC Distinguished Service Award to John B. Wilson, retiring president of the Independent College Fund of New Jersey. A long-serving member of the CIC Board of Directors, Wilson provided 48 years of distinguished service to independent higher education and, from 2011 through 2017, Wilson led the Investment Committee that oversees the CIC/UPS Educational Endowment. He provided similar stewardship of the endowment under the former Foundation for Independent Higher Education.