The CCIF invites colleges and community-based organizations (CBOs) in the five boroughs of New York City to apply for awards beginning in January 2021. All awards made by the CCIF aim to catalyze marked increases in the college persistence and completion rates of New York City students. The Fund seeks potentially transformative solutions that are new to the region, and that bring the possibility of large-scale improvements for degree completion. Ideal pilot projects should be new or not widely implemented in New York City. Ideas borrowed from other areas of the country or other sectors of work are welcome. The CCIF will support organizations in developing innovative project proposals to address issues of completion by significantly improving student outcomes in categories approved by the CCIF Advisory Board. The categories for the 2021 Award Cycle are as follows:

  • Increasing Momentum: This may include improving efficiency and decreasing time to degree, supporting part-time students, and near completers.
  • Re-engaging Stopouts: This may include also include students who have enrolled non-continuously.
  • Improving Transfer Student Success: This may include improving transfer systems and/or strengthening partnerships across institutions and organizations.
  • Addressing Basic Student Needs Holistically to Accelerate Degree Completion: This may include access to food and mental health services, promoting postsecondary affordability and financial security, and supporting student parents.

*The CCIF maintains an interest in strategy shifts connected to virtual instruction, programs, or systems as they relate to achieving the above desired outcomes.

The Process

To help build capacity and encourage greater innovation among education and nonprofit organizations, the CCIF will sponsor an application process during winter 2021 that consists of asynchronous and synchronous content to highlight promising research and practices and a Design Thinking Workshop. Teams interested in applying for the CCIF are strongly encouraged to participate in a half-day, human-centered design workshop that will be held on January 12, 2021. Please note that applicants should identify two or three project leaders to participate in the workshop. Project leaders must be conducting their work at the program director level or in a similar capacity. Partnering organizations should have representatives from each organization present.

Brief letters of inquiry will be due on February 8, 2021. Among the initial short-form applications received, 25 organizations will be invited to develop and submit a full proposal to implement their respective innovative practices. After a review of full proposals, 15 organizations will be invited to participate in theory of change calls with the CCIF Advisory Board. Selected organizations may request awards from $100,000 to $200,000, to support work over the course of one to two years. During the award period, the CCIF expects funded project personnel to participate in additional implementation support workshops and to leverage these opportunities to make improvements to their projects.


Eligible parties include New York City-based undergraduate colleges (public or nonprofit) and nonprofit community-based organizations, with at least three years of demonstrated experience implementing college retention and/or success work serving low-income students. Interested campuses and organizations are invited to join GNYC for a variety of workshops and webinars that will take place during December 2020 and January 2021, and will be recorded for reference purposes. These professional development opportunities will showcase emerging projects from across the country and will include an introduction to the necessary research that will aid in the development of project proposals

Teams interested in applying for the CCIF are also strongly encouraged to participate in a half-day, human-centered design workshop that will be held on January 12, 2021.

Eligible projects must serve low-income students, first-generation college students, students of color, or populations that are traditionally underrepresented among college degree holders. Applicant campuses and organizations must have a demonstrated record of tracking and leveraging data to inform programming, and the demonstrated staff capacity to carry out a proposed project. Award recipients must have a 501(c)(3) designation.



  • 11/18: CCIF 2021 Award Cycle Informational Webinar


  • 12/9: Student Supports at CUNY Forum
  • 12/17: A National Perspective on Supporting Students’ Basic Needs


  • 1/4: Letter of inquiry released.
  • 1/12: Design thinking workshop (to register for the workshop, please email Sharlene Diamond at
  • 1/13: A National Perspective on Momentum and Persistence.
  • 1/21: A conversation on innovation in public higher education with José Luis Cruz, Executive Vice Chancellor and University Provost, CUNY, and Tim Renick, Executive Director, National Institute for Student Success, Georgia State University. 


  • 2/8: Deadline for letter of inquiry submission.
  • 2/23: Selected project teams invited to submit full proposal.


  • 4/9: Full proposals due.


  • 6/1: Award recipients notified.


The 2021 CCIF Award Cycle will be completely virtual. All workshops and events will be held remotely.

Applications for the 2021 Award Cycle are due on February 8, 2021.

Organizations will be notified on February 23, 2021 as to whether they have been invited to submit Full Proposals.

All funded projects must tackle issues of completion for current college students. Summer projects are eligible if they target student populations that have completed at least one semester of college.

Currently, there is no required minimum number of students that must be served through this award. However, the fund is interested in pilots that have the potential to impact a large subset of students.

Yes, the CCIF encourages organizations to submit applications together when possible. If selected, partnering organizations should have representatives from each organization as part of their core design team.

If your proposed project is new or not a widely implemented strategy in New York City, it fits the criteria. Ideas borrowed from other sectors or geographic locations are welcome.

Graduate NYC will be hosting a series of events and webinars through mid-January to provide resources and ideas. If you’re unable to attend, the events will be recorded and housed on the Graduate NYC website.

It is not mandatory that you participate in the Design Thinking workshop before submitting an application. However, the Design Thinking workshop was developed to help applicants strengthen their submissions, and we strongly encourage applicant teams to have 2-3 members attend the workshop.

Please reach out to Sharlene Diamond ( as soon as possible to determine next steps.

For additional questions not covered in the FAQ page, please contact Sharlene Diamond at