CIC Launches A Multi-Year Work-Based Learning Initiative for 25 Member Institutions

The Council of Independent Colleges (CIC) and Riipen have joined forces in a multi-year project to benefit 25 member institutions. This collaboration aims to integrate work-based learning opportunities into up to 375 courses led by 125 faculty members and impacting up to 11,250 students.

CIC's 662 member institutions are invited to submit proposals for this project. The selected 25 institutions will form a community of practice, learning how to incorporate work-based learning into their curricula, and transforming education for thousands of students.


CIC member institutions will be selected for the project that includes a multi-year partnership with Riipen to train educators, design WBL experiences and collaborate with employer partners.


How the WBL Consortium Works: An Overview


Project Objectives

Institutional capacity. Institutions in the WBL Consortium should be able to devote resources and staffing to a multi-year pilot project and demonstrate capacity to support paid participation in the Riipen network once the pilot phase concludes. (Note that participating institutions will never be required to become paid members of the Riipen network during the multi-year pilot phase of the WBL Consortium.) Applicants are encouraged to consider how they will sustain participation in the WBL Consortium after the grant concludes through their own budget and fundraising.

A commitment to serving underrepresented student groups. Selected institutions should demonstrate a commitment to providing opportunities to students who may have been excluded from traditional internship opportunities, with a particular focus on African American and Latina/o/x students, first-generation students, and students from lower-income backgrounds. Applicants should describe how the institution serves underrepresented student groups and how students from these communities might be recruited to enroll in courses offered as part of the WBL Consortium.

Institutional diversity: As much as possible, the WBL Consortium should reflect the diversity of CIC’s member institutions and the students they serve. CIC also aims to include institutions and teams with different levels of experience in supporting work-based learning activities.

Strong project leadership. The faculty champions nominated for the program should be strong teachers representing disciplines from across the liberal arts and professional fields, while the career services staff member should hold a senior role and have extensive experience in helping students prepare for careers.

Compatibility with work-based learning content. Selected institutions should demonstrate a compelling match between proposed courses and the kinds of work-based learning opportunities that are already offered through the Riipen project marketplace. (We strongly encourage you to explore the marketplace before preparing an application.)

WBL Selection Criteria

Project Implementation

Project Funders


WBL experiences for learners to foster stronger post-graduation career outcomes and enhance student learning.

Faculty champions will learn best practices for integrating work-based learning projects into their courses.

CIC member institutions can apply to the WBL Consortium to form an active community of practice to integrate work-based learning into the curriculum and access resources to support faculty members to design future courses.

Webinars and training. Participants will engage in a series of webinars with Riipen staff, learning best practices for using the platform, integrating work-based learning projects with industry partners, and establishing successful collaborations with peers at similar institutions.

Platform setup. Riipen will create a dedicated hub for the network on its marketplace and develop individual landing pages for each participating institution. Faculty members will receive guidance on setting up their course pages and recruiting potential employer partners.

Access to resources. Participants will gain access to Riipen's extensive library of work-based learning resources, templates, and case studies, allowing them to effectively design and implement courses tailored to their specific needs and institutional contexts.

Ongoing support. Throughout the project, Riipen and CIC staff will provide continuous support to the institutional teams, working closely with them to ensure successful course launches and revisions for each academic year.

Collaboration and knowledge sharing. Institutional teams will meet regularly, facilitated by CIC and Riipen staff, to share their experiences, challenges, and successes in integrating work-based learning into undergraduate courses. This collaboration will foster a community of practice focused on the continuous improvement of work-based learning in CIC member institutions. 

Resources Hub

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 is the major national organization that focuses on services to leaders of independent colleges and universities and state-based councils.

Learn more at

CIC will select 25 institutions to participate in the WBL Consortium through a competitive selection process. Each institution will be represented by a team of five full-time faculty members, a career services professional, and the chief academic officer.

The five faculty champions will be expected to integrate work-based learning projects into new or existing upper-division courses (i.e., primarily for juniors and seniors) and offer at least one such course during each of the next three academic years: 2023–2024, 2024–2025, and 2025–2026. In most cases, we expect the initial courses will be offered in Spring 2024. The remaining members of the team—the career services professional and the academic officer—will play vital supporting roles, helping to assure that the work-based learning projects align with other curricular goals and career preparation activities on campus. All team members will be closely involved in evaluating the success of the WBL Consortium.

To support this campus-based work, each participating institution will receive the following resources:

  • Free access to Riipen’s work-based learning platform (an equivalent value of at least $65,000 over the duration of the project) 
  • Intensive training in integrating work-based learning into a liberal arts curriculum 
  • Participation in a virtual community of practice coordinated by CIC 
  • $7,500 in faculty stipends (i.e., $1,500 for each of five faculty champions)* 
  • $1,500 to support work-based learning events for students* 
  • $1,600 to support project evaluation*

*These are one-time grants but may be spread over the duration of the project. There will be no additional cost to institutions, faculty members, or students during this period.

Application Guidelines

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 27000+ 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.

Learn more at

Project Timeline

June 30, 2023: Application deadline.
July 2023: Selection of 25 participating institutions.
August 2023: Launch of the community of practice.
September–November 2023: Intensive training of faculty champions on the Riipen platform and course design.
Spring 2024: First round of work-based learning (WBL) courses.
September–December 2024: The community of practice discusses evaluation results from the first round of courses. Campus teams assess the first round of courses from their institutions and begin making revisions. The external evaluator collects data on WBL courses and control courses at the 25 institutions.
Spring 2025: Second round of WBL courses.
September–December 2025: The community of practice discusses evaluation results from the second round of courses. Campus teams assess the second round of courses from their institutions and begin making revisions. The external evaluator collects data on WBL courses and control courses at the 25 institutions and collects data from alumni who participated in the first round of WBL courses.
Spring 2026: Third and final round of WBL courses.
Summer 2026: Course materials are compiled for the online library. The external evaluator begins their final assessment of impact of the network and documents changes to the work-based learning landscape at the 25 participating institutions.
September–December 2026: The external evaluator collects remaining data on the final round of WBL courses and control courses, as well as alumni outcomes from the previous round of WBL courses.
January–June 2027: The external evaluator conducts post-course evaluations with faculty to understand successes and challenges in offering Riipen-integrated courses and assesses all data collected.
December 2027: A report on the work of the WBL Consortium is released to all CIC member institutions.

What institutions are eligible to apply for the Work-Based Learning Consortium?
CIC welcomes applications from colleges and universities that are institutional members of CIC in good standing (that is, have fully paid their dues for the 2022-2023 year). Participating institutions are expected to maintain their CIC membership through the end of the 2027-2028 year. International members are not eligible to participate in this project due to limitations set by CIC’s funders.
What courses would make the best fit for the Work-Based Learning Consortium?
Applicants should name five faculty champions who will each revise one course to integrate a work-based learning component in the spring semesters of 2024, 2025, and 2026. These courses can be drawn from across the liberal arts and professional fields, but they should be upper-level courses for undergraduates, preferably including a large coursework assignment like a capstone project. In selecting courses and disciplines, applicants should also consider how these courses will serve the student populations who are most likely to face barriers to traditional internship experiences, particularly African-American students, Latina/o students, first-generation students, and students from lower-income households.
What types of employers do colleges and universities work with through the Riipen platform?
Employers on Riipen come from a variety of backgrounds, geographies, and sizes. They’re brought into the Riipen ecosystem from a variety of sources including events, digital ads, partner networks, chambers of commerce, direct outreach, referrals, and search engines. With nearly 30,000 small to mid-sized businesses and charities operating in 31 industries in the ecosystem, as well as familiar names like Deloitte, IMAX, there is a wide variety of employers and projects on the Riipen platform. Riipen is used at more than 400 colleges and universities, ranging in size and locations, state and private and community colleges.
Are students compensated for their work with employers?
As the Riipen platform integrates work-based learning projects into coursework, these projects are considered part of a student’s course credit and are not compensated. These projects are above all an educational experience for students, with faculty members and employers working together to design projects that help students develop workplace skills and to provide mentorship and network-building opportunities.
What is the cost of the Riipen platform for CIC member institutions?
For the 25 institutions selected to participate in the Work-Based Learning Consortium, the Riipen platform will be made available at no cost for the five courses in the 2023-2024, 2024-2025, and 2025-2026 academic years. Participating institutions that want to continue working with Riipen and institutions that are not selected for the pilot program are welcome to sign up directly with Riipen at a preferential, discounted rate for CIC member institutions. Pricing plans start at $9,000 per year for a license that would include 1 administrator account, 5 educator accounts, and up to 10 projects from the employer marketplace.
Can participating institutions include additional faculty members/courses in the Consortium?
The grant-funded Work-Based Learning Consortium is limited to the five faculty champions at the 25 participating institutions, so these are the only courses that will be paid for by the grant or included in the research project. However, institutions are welcome to pay for additional educators to use the Riipen platform and integrate these work-based learning projects into their courses on a case-by-case basis. See the pricing plan for more information on pricing, and contact CIC and Riipen staff for further guidance. CIC and Riipen will share a pricing plan with selected institutions who wish to host additional faculty members on Riipen's platform.
Will participating institutions have an obligation to continue hosting the Riipen platform at their own expense after the grant concludes in 2027?
Institutions are not required to commit to paying for the Riipen platform after the grant concludes. However, CIC requests that applicants think ahead beyond the grant-funded stage: if this program is a good fit for the institution, how would the expense be covered through the operating budget and/or fundraising.
What types of projects do students undertake through the Riipen platform?
Projects that students complete on the Riipen platform are vetted, and approved by their educator and curated for them to work on for course credit. Projects vary in scope and duration based on the type of program and how the educator wants to deliver the work-based learning experience in their course. Projects are typically completed in groups, and collaboration with employers is enabled through Riipen communication and collaboration tools. The number of hours required for students for each project is up to their educator, and ranges from 10 hours to 200 hours, however the average is around 40 hours per student over the course of an academic semester. Riipen project marketplace has a very diverse range of categories and types, however the most common include; marketing, strategic consulting, communications, data analytics, software development, website development, digital content strategy, cyber security, human resources, grant writing, and market research. Review live project scopes here.
What is the expected time commitment for the faculty champions at the selected institutions?
To start using Riipen and have a successful course experience, onboarding and training for first time users is approximately 5-6 hours in total. This would include creating the course page, utilizing the marketplace for projects and connecting with employers as part of the matching process. A huge part of course success is making sure that the relationship and expectations between the faculty and employer are well aligned. Committing to connecting with the employers introduced by Riipen should be considered as a part of that time commitment.
How will faculty members be trained on using Riipen’s platform?
Faculty members will have an onboarding experience that is designed to support how to best utilize the Riipen platform and support their students. The journey starts with pre-onboarding where we gather early stage requirements from faculty such as course materials, employer partner preferences and their ideal timelines. Onboarding is done directly with their assigned Riipen Experience Consultant and walks them through the platform from getting signed up, setting up their course experience page, how to use the marketplace and how to get students into the platform. We’ll also walk through some hand selected employer projects to start the matchmaking process. After onboarding they will continue to work with their Experience Consultant if they need support with troubleshooting or how to use any Riipen features. In addition to this they’ll have 24/7 access to all of the Riipen training materials and guides available online.

Frequently Asked Questions

Exclusive webinars for selected 
WBL Consortium Institutions

Join one of our exclusive webinars designed to provide you with a comprehensive overview of the Riipen platform, a chance to connect with other members of this new community of practice, and next steps to get started.

What will be covered:

  • Course outlines: Learn how to integrate real-world, employer-designed projects seamlessly into your existing courses, enhancing the learning experience for your students.

  • Platform overview: Get a detailed walkthrough of the Riipen platform, a cutting-edge experiential learning platform that will serve as the backbone of your institution's work-based learning initiatives.

  • Work-Based Learning best practices: Discover best practices in work-based learning (WBL) to effectively prepare your students for successful career transitions and future professional endeavors.

  • Educator journey:  Explore the path of an educator’s journey with Riipen from the beginning of the experience to the end.

Who should attend from the selected colleges and universities:

  • Faculty members 

  • Experiential learning teams

  • Career services administrators

  • Chief Academic Officers

Reserve your spot at one of these sessions: 

Wednesday, August 16 - 1pm ET
Thursday, August 24 - 2pm ET
Tuesday, August 29 - 2pm ET
Wednesday, September 6 - 10am ET
Thursday, September 14 - 1pm ET