National Venture Fund Grants Support Collaboration

​CIC awarded National Venture Fund grants to four State Councils in March to support consortial activities among independent colleges and universities that belong to their state association. The initiative provides challenge grants for projects that will increase activity in one of four target areas: making the case; expanding corporate connections and career opportunities for students; developing collaborative programs and grants; and generating student scholarships. The grants require raising matching funds and preparing an impact report after 18 months. Grant recipients in this funding round include the following:

  • The Associated Colleges of Illinois (ACI) will develop a career fair for students of member colleges and universities. The project responds to survey results that revealed 85 percent of members would send their students to a career fair in the Chicago metropolitan area or in central Illinois. ACI will use grant funds to provide the career fair at no cost to members or their students. The fair will include career-readiness sessions for students and professional development sessions for college and university career services staff.
  • The Independent Colleges and Universities of Texas Foundation (ICUT Foundation) will develop an online portal to ease the transfer of community college degrees and course credits to ICUT member institutions. The project addresses the difficulty many students experience in transferring community college credentials to independent four-year colleges and universities and aims to increase persistence and graduation rates for community college students who enroll at ICUT member institutions.
  • The Iowa College Fund (ICF) will focus on the need in Iowa for professional development opportunities to cultivate future leaders of member institutions. Noting that many of its member colleges and universities lose development staff to larger public institutions, ICF will develop a training program to address the high staff turnover and usually high cost of professional development programs. ICF fundraisers will offer and develop online training sessions and make those available free of charge to member institutions.
  • The Ohio Foundation of Independent Colleges (OFIC) will motivate donors to provide matching funds for the Aspire Ohio Scholars project, which provides need-based scholarships to first-generation, low-income, minority, and new American students nominated by the 34 institutions of OFIC. The program is designed to address the problem, as a recent study by the University of Pennsylvania Institute for Research in Higher Education revealed, that Ohio ranks 45th overall in college affordability.

The State Councils’ 2017–2018 grant cycle will begin with the announcement of the competitive Scholarship Challenge Grant program in late April.