State Councils

CIC’s State Councils are consortia of private colleges and universities with the mission of advancing and strengthening their member institutions. Through its State Councils program, CIC provides member services and organizational development opportunities for these consortia, as well as grants and professional support for their activities in four specific program areas:

  • Increasing recognition and enrollment of member institutions through collective public relations and branding initiatives that help ‘make the case’ for private colleges and universities;
  • Putting a college education within reach for deserving students of all income levels by raising private gifts and grants for scholarships;
  • Expanding student internship and career opportunities, as well as developing corporate grant and sponsorship support, by connecting the private college sector to America’s business community; and
  • Enhancing curricular and co-curricular programs at member institutions by facilitating the development of multi-college approaches to key targets of opportunity, and seeking grant funding for these collaborative initiatives.

These four program areas have been identified as top priorities by independent college presidents and endorsed by the CIC Board of Directors.  CIC believes that by working collectively on these initiatives, the State Councils network can ‘move the needle,” further strengthening the independent college sector nationwide.

Annual Conference

The centerpiece of CIC State Council programming, the State Councils Annual Conference provides state executives and their staff with a forum for face-to-face networking and an opportunity to share best practices with colleagues. Programming at the Annual Conference includes workshops, speakers, and educational sessions, providing tools for state executives colleagues to better serve their constituency of private colleges and universities.

2023 State Councils Annual Conference

The 2023 CIC State Councils Annual Conference was held April 30–May 2, 2023, in Virginia Beach, VA.

View program information.

Grant Programs

Capacity-Building Grant

The CIC Capacity Building Grant Program was created to provide “seed money” grants for State Councils to enhance or expand their capacity to raise money to support their programs and member colleges. The grants are intended to provide start-up funding for new fundraising programs, particularly those which are targeted at attracting new donors and new financial support, or focus on other ways to enhance fundraising capacity for the future.

​National Venture Fund Grant

The National Venture Fund grant program provides a unique means to strengthen the nation’s independent sector of higher education through its network of State Councils. It was established to inspire and fund creative solutions to the needs of independent colleges and universities and to encourage participation in such efforts by foundations, corporations, government agencies, individuals, and other nonprofit organizations.

Scholarship Challenge Grant

Presidents of independent colleges and universities have made it clear that one of their highest priority needs is additional scholarship aid for deserving students. A second need is for scholarships that can improve student retention beyond the first year. To help address these needs, CIC offers its State Councils the opportunity to apply for challenge grants designed to leverage additional gifts for scholarships, with the CIC grant and matching moneys passed along to the Council’s member colleges as student financial aid. To earn the CIC grant, State Councils must raise at least the challenge grant amount—but ideally more—from outside sources before the end of the fiscal year.

Scholarship Programs

​CIC/UPS Scholarships Program

Each year, State Councils receive grants from CIC to provide CIC/UPS Scholarships for use at every four-year private college and university in the State Councils network. The scholarships are given in the name of UPS, whose financial support was the basis for the CIC/UPS Educational Endowment. Since 1985, approximately $62.2 million has been awarded in scholarship grants to CIC State Councils to assist 22,228 first-generation, low-income, minority, or new American students at independent colleges across the country.

Dorothea M. Waterbury Scholarship

The scholarships are provided by an endowment, established by Dorothea Waterbury of Newton, Massachusetts, to fund scholarships for Pell-eligible students who are enrolled at selected CIC member New England colleges and universities. The approach of this scholarship program is based on the successful CIC First Opportunity Partners initiative, which aims to improve access and success at private colleges and universities for first-generation, low-income, minority, and new American students.

History and Impact

The roots of CIC’s program for State Councils dates to 1958 with the founding of the Independent College Funds of America—later renamed the Foundation for Independent Higher Education (FIHE)—which served as the national office to support the work of the State Fund consortia established by the private colleges in each state to work collaboratively to raise gifts and grants from the corporate sector. In 2010, FIHE merged into the Council of Independent Colleges, with the regional organizations becoming State Councils of CIC. Continuing program staff support for the network, CIC focuses on member services and grant-making programs.

The program and its network of consortia have had a tangible impact on the advancement of independent colleges and universities affiliated with the State Councils. Since its inception, the program has provided nearly $100 million in grants to State Councils in support of college program development, student scholarships, and opportunities for independent institutions to participate in, and benefit from, innovative collaborative projects. Of this $100 million total, half was raised by program staff for distribution to the State Councils with the other half being funded by the CIC/UPS Educational Endowment for such programs as the CIC/UPS Scholarship program, which has supported 21,775 students with over $60 million in scholarships.

Learn more about the CIC/UPS Educational Endowment.

The program has also played a major role in enabling the State Councils to raise over $1.7 billion to support the private colleges and universities in their respective states. Programs funded include budget support for such purposes as scholarships, faculty development, undergraduate research, curriculum development, STEM projects, and minority educational achievement.

Community Site and Listserv

The State Councils Community Site provides a shared online space for CIC State Councils to collaborate and to share resources. Using this community site, members can conduct discussions, share documents, organize announcements and events, and access the member directory.

Access the community site.

Contact Information

​Please contact Sherita C. Ashmon, director of State Councils and networks support, at or (202) 466-7230, for questions related to CIC’s State Councils.