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

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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.

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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

For More Information

For those with further questions about the Work-Based Learning Consortium after reading the application guidelines and watching the informational webinar, we are offering a series of small-group meetings with CIC and Riipen staff. To join one of these conversations, please select the time that works best for you from the four options below. Each small-group meeting has a registration cap of 25 participants; if the meeting you want to join is full, consider joining a different timeslot or feel free to email your questions to Jane Walters, CIC Projects Coordinator, at

May 31 at 11:00 am EDTRegister here
June 2 at 1:00 pm EDT
Register here
June 5 at 3:00 pm EDT
Register here
June 6 at 2:00 pm EDT
Register here

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.

Watch Webinar Recording