Council of Independent Colleges Launches Consortium for Work-Based Learning

May 2023 – Washington, DC

New initiative aims to increase equity and effectiveness in work-based learning and career preparation for over 11,000 students from under-represented populations

The Council of Independent Colleges announces the launch of the Consortium for Work-Based Learning, in partnership with Riipen, an experiential learning platform and marketplace. The WBL Consortium will integrate real-world, employer-designed projects into existing courses at 25 CIC member institutions to equip students with skills, real-world experiences, and professional connections to support their future careers.  

This multi-year program has an estimated value of over $65,000 per institution and will be administered free of charge to colleges and universities selected through a selective application process. This CIC initiative is made possible thanks to $3 million in funding from Ascendium Education Group and Strada Education Foundation.  

The partnership between CIC and Riipen for this pilot project is expected to reach over 11,000 students at CIC member institutions, where a team of five faculty members, one career services administrator, and the chief academic officer or designee will oversee the program on each campus. CIC asks that faculty members commit to redesigning at least one of their courses per year to include a virtual, work-based learning project hosted on Riipen’s platform. These new courses will be offered in the 2023–2024, 2024–2025, and 2025–2026 academic years. 

“Building cost-effective solutions for our members is a key strategic priority for CIC. We are delighted to launch this college to career pipeline in collaboration with Riipen,” said CIC President Marjorie Hass. 

The WBL Consortium will provide a national network that will ease barriers to participation in work-based learning for students from under-represented groups. CIC represents colleges and universities in the independent sector and recognizes the need for career preparation programs. Access to internships and support to prepare students for the job market vary across institutions, particularly for first-generation students, students from lower-income households, African American students, and Latino/a/x students as well as students located in rural areas. The WBL Consortium will help students who may not have the time to devote to an internship that can last for a full semester or summer on top of a paid job, a heavy course load, and/or family obligations. The experience students gain from the WBL Consortium will help them build professional networks and feel more confident when applying for jobs. 

“The Consortium for Work-Based Learning will offer a community of practice where faculty members who lead successful courses will be encouraged to add their course materials to a library of resources to build a body of work for other faculty members at similar institutions,” said Titilayo Ufomata, CIC’s senior vice president of academic programs.  

CIC will produce a report on the work-based learning landscape at the participating institutions and the impact of the projects on students, faculty members and employers. There will be multiple levels of assessment to show student outcomes, assess faculty experiences, and allow partner employers to provide feedback. The results will demonstrate the value and impact of this network to CIC colleges and universities. 

“At a time when relevant work experience is so important to career success, yet often inaccessible and difficult to gain, the Riipen team is excited to work with the CIC to help deliver scalable and impactful work-based learning opportunities for learners across their member institutions,” said Dave Savory, Riipen co-founder and VP of experiential learning. “Over the next few years, the WBL Consortium will remove barriers to launching and growing new work-based learning programs and build capacity for the entire community of CIC member institutions to engage in this transformational work.” 

The deadline for CIC member institutions to submit applications is June 30 and selected institutions will be announced by CIC in July. The community of practice will launch in August, followed by intensive training of faculty on the Riipen platform and course design. CIC institutions in the pilot program are expected to offer work-based learning courses starting with the Spring 2024 semester. CIC will release a report on the work of the WBL Consortium to all CIC member institutions in December 2027. 

About CIC: The Council of Independent Colleges (CIC) is an association of more than 700 nonprofit independent colleges and universities, state-based councils of independent colleges, and other higher education affiliates, that works to support college and university leadership, advance institutional excellence, and enhance public understanding of independent higher education’s contributions to society. CIC offers conferences, seminars, publications, and other programs and services that help independent institutions improve educational quality, administrative and financial performance, student outcomes, and institutional visibility.  

About Riipen: Riipen is a work-based learning platform helping educators, organizations, and learners collaborate on real industry projects to bridge the gap between higher education and employment. With a network of 27,000+ employers and trusted by 430 academic institutions and training providers, Riipen helps educators integrate real-employer projects into program curriculum leading to improved student engagement and employability outcomes.


Susan Jenkins, CIC, at or (202) 552-8982 

John Wannemacher, Riipen, at