State Councils First Opportunity Partners Grants

Generously funded by an Inequality and Economic Empowerment Grant from the UPS Foundation, the mission of the First Opportunity Partners (FOP) Grant Program is to fund CIC State Councils in support of new, collaborative, and/or innovative approaches to increasing college access and success of first-generation, low-income, minority, and new American students.  

Earlier rounds of grants were matched by third parties. Since the inception of the program, nearly $2 million has been distributed to fund more than 50 grant programs. Reported matching funds total more than $2 million, which brings the total economic impact of these grant programs to more than $4 million.  

Current Status

The current FOP grant program offering is dedicated to supporting programs and initiatives that support diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) implemented or supported by the State Council organizations. 

The Opportunity

The First Opportunity Partners Grant may be requested in the amounts of $7,500-$20,000 by individual State Councils, with grants to be awarded through a competitive review process. Grants may be used for DEI projects currently being implemented by State Council organizations to cover operational, programmatic, marketing, and/or fundraising costs; can be used as seed money to create a new initiative; or for sponsoring the membership fee to CIC’s Belong community dedicated to making campuses more welcoming and inclusive. (Belong offers a suite of professional development resources for faculty and staff to support student belonging in class and campus-wide. ​The annual institutional fee for membership in the Belong community is $7,500 and is exclusive to CIC members.)

While not required, State Councils may also use this grant as an informal matching grant opportunity. Matching may include contributions from institutions, partners, or the State Council organization itself. Proposals can include listing contributions and/or possible matches from other sources. In circumstances where grant requests exceed funding, proposals with additional contributions will receive priority consideration. Matching will not be required for fund distribution, however matching outcomes can be confirmed by the final report date.

Eligibility and Reporting Requirements

The grant proposal should be submitted as one package online on or before November 17, 2023. Decisions will be announced by December 1, 2023.

First Opportunity Partners Grant projects must be created, completed, or supported within six months following notification of the award by CIC. A final narrative and financial report about the project from the State Council to CIC will be due within one month after the project has been completed.

Expectations of Grant Recipients

If awarded a CIC First Opportunities Grant, the State Council will agree to:

  • Submit a final written report to CIC no later than one month after the project has been completed;
  • Meet the required deadlines for project completion;
  • Permit the inclusion of information about its First Opportunities Grant in CIC publications;
  • Identify the funded activities as supported by CIC in all project materials and publicity; and
  • Maintain State Council membership in CIC throughout the grant period.

Application Guidelines

  1. Include a one-page cover letter, addressed to Sherita Ashmon at CIC on the State Council’s letterhead.
  2. Include a proposal attachment with the following components:
    • Applicant (name, title, State Council, address, phone number, email)
    • Project Title
    • Project Description
      • Briefly describe your current project or initiative—what is the goal of the current project or what do you intend to do? And when?;
      • Briefly describe your proposed new project or initiative. Describe how this initiative will be a building block for future programming, and how you will maintain the momentum generated from this funding;
      • Briefly describe your proposal to support engagement with the national Belong network
    • Budget. Propose a budget for the use of the requested funds.
    • Statement of Goals. Quantify the expected results from the funded activities, clearly stating the potential impact of your initiative.
  3. Submit your application as a single package online here. Only applications submitted electronically as a PDF will be considered.

Reporting Guidelines

The State Council is expected to provide a brief final report on the project by July 29, 2024. Reports should include the following:

  • A summary of how the project and the timeline;
  • Results of the initiative, comparing results to original goals;
  • Lessons learned from the project; and
  • A summary of financial expenditures for the project, in relation to the proposed budget.

Applications for the First Opportunities Partners grants are due by November 17, 2023. To submit an application, apply here.


Only CIC State Councils are eligible to apply for First Opportunity Partners funding.

Contact Information

If you have questions about the grant application, please contact Sherita C. Ashmon, director of State Councils and networks support, at (202) 466-7230 or

About CIC’s State Councils

Learn more about CIC’s State Councils, including the array of progams and opportunities that are available to members.