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+ 18 Students Awarded Scholarships Through ACI/FORVIS Micro-Internship Project by Parker Dewey
+ ACI’s Benefit Luncheon, ‘The Future We Lead,’ Celebrates Students in Higher Ed
+ Board Considers Research Findings and ACI’s Future, Approves Budget, Reelects Members
18 Students Awarded Scholarships Through ACI/FORVIS Micro-Internship Project by Parker Dewey
May 2, 2023

ACI distriACI/FORVIS Micro-Internship Project by Parker Dewey.buted $50,110 in scholarship funds to 18 eligible students participating this academic year in the ACI/FORVIS Micro-Internship Project by Parker Dewey.

To be eligible for a scholarship, students from participating schools applied for at least four micro-internships or secured one micro-internship by Jan. 31, 2023. Scholarship recipients were selected by financial aid staff at participating campuses, said Daisy Gomez, ACI director, events and scholarships. Whether selected or not for a micro-internship, most students said they appreciated learning about the micro-internships through the project.

In recent years, ACI has worked with Parker Dewey to promote short-term micro-internships to member college students, who gain valuable work experience. To advance micro-internships, ACI was awarded $20,000 to initiate the ACI/FORVIS Micro-Internship Project through a First Opportunity Partners grant by the Council of Independent Colleges, Washington, D.C., with support from the UPS Foundation.

ACI committed to raise an additional $30,000 to fund the project, which was provided by FORVIS, LLP, a professional services firm, offering comprehensive assurance, tax, advisory and wealth management services. Individual donors also provided funding, including Donald J. Campbell Jr., Robert DiMeo and Arch W. Shaw Foundation. Campbell and DiMeo are members of the ACI Board of Trustees.

Micro-internship project funds were distributed to 12 member schools, which assigned the funds to eligible students:

  • Aurora University: Leslie Gomez, sophomore, psychology major
  • Elmhurst University: Mateo Gomez Bedoya, freshman, secondary education and Spanish major
  • Illinois Wesleyan University: Mishwa Bhavsar, senior, computer science major
  • Illinois Wesleyan University: Rancel Hernandez, senior, computer science major
  • Illinois Wesleyan University: Harsh Patel, sophomore, computer science major
  • Knox College: Robert Wills, senior, studio art major
  • Lewis University: Genesis Sosa, freshman, business administration major
  • McKendree University: Caleb Raymond Fisher, senior, business management major
  • North Park University: Jennifer Colunga, junior, nursing major
  • Quincy University: Emily Klinner, sophomore , marketing major
  • Quincy University: Mary Ruxlow, junior, education major
  • Saint Xavier University: Victoria Dolbniak, junior, digital marketing and finance major
  • Saint Xavier University: Gabrielle Escobedo, junior, biology major
  • Saint Xavier University Danya Mohamed, senior, biochemistry major
  • Trinity Christian College: Briana Lowe , senior, health communications major
  • Trinity Christian College: Ricardo Emmanuel Monroy, junior, marketing major
  • University of St. Francis: Jade A. Parrish, senior, psychology major
  • Wheaton College: Chan Daniel Kang, junior, interdisciplinary studies, pre-med major
ACI’s Benefit Luncheon, ‘The Future We Lead,’ Celebrates Students in Higher Ed
April 21 event raises critical funding for scholarships and program support
May 2, 2023

**Visit the Benefit Luncheon webpage to see more event photos and video.

ACI welcomed 115 registered guests at its Benefit Luncheon April 21 at thACI's Benefit Luncheon was April 21.e University Club of Chicago. With the theme, “The Future We Lead,” the luncheon program focused on students attending the ACI’s member colleges and universities and their aspirations and needs. The Benefit Luncheon earned an estimated $65,000 in net proceeds, including $17,175 in extra-mile funds raised the day of the event, to help fund ACI scholarships and programs.

Keynote speaker Dr. Susy Best, president and CEO, Thrive Group International, LLC, earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Wheaton College and Master of Business Administration from North Park University, both ACI members. In her remarks, she recalled her college experiences and asked the audience to recall their own college years. She chose Wheaton College over a Florida college because it was a great fit, and because of the financial support it awarded her, which included funds from ACI, she said.

Dr. Susy Best, Thrive Group International, LLC

Dr. Susy Best, Thrive Group International, LLC

A first-generation student, Dr. Susy says she and a group of friends involved in ACI supported each other. “We became a glue to each others’ success, because collectively, we were all at the school because of the incredible financial, academic and mentoring support we were offered,” she said. “We were all first generation with big dreams and vision, yet we faced many challenges outside of going to college.”

She told the audience that she and her college friends attribute their success in college and in life “to be built upon the foundation of financial aid, college acculturation, emotional, social, career and life support that we received while in college and was afforded to us by ACI.”  She concluded by challenging audience members to invest their time, talent and treasure in future leaders attending ACI’s member institutions, and consider doing even more.

Cameron Steele, Olivet Nazarene University

Cameron Steele, Olivet Nazarene University

Students say college successes made possible by ACI
Cameron Steele, a chemical engineering major at Olivet Nazarene University, benefited from multiple ACI scholarships in his college years.

“The ACI scholarships allowed me to focus more on school,” he said. “It allowed me to dive into academics and spend time pursuing internships to get my career started. My career and the direction it is heading is something that may not have been possible without the help of ACI. It largely impacted my college experience and allowed me to grow as a student and an engineer.”

Elide Lucina Rojo-Gutierrez, Knox College

Elide Lucina Rojo-Gutierrez, Knox College

Elide Lucina Rojo-Gutierrez, a biology and anthropology major at Knox College, is thankful for the grant awarded her by the McGraw Foundation Student Emergency Assistance Fund.

Sometime in the future I hope to be sitting where you are today, to take the weight off a student’s shoulders and give them the peace of mind that I received,” she said. “I want to tell future students, ‘Echale ganas, tu puedes’ (Keep going. You can do this). I want to express how thankful I am to ACI and the McGraw Foundation. My success is in part, thanks to you.”

Kenyahn May, Millikin University

Kenyahn May, Millikin University

Millikin University’s Kenyahn May, is a criminal justice and sociology major, and mentor in ACI’s Peer Mentoring Program. He said he learned about the ACI program during his freshman year.

“That year was very emotional because of the death of my grandfather,” he said. “The close relationship I had with my mentor and friends gave me a lot of emotional support that I needed. The program helped me when I needed it and has given me the opportunity to do the same for others.”

ACI to focus on changing needs for students and colleges
In remarks to the luncheon attendees, April Arnold, ACI executive director, and Lyn Bulman, chair, ACI Board of Trustees, said ACI will adapt to fit changing needs of students and member colleges and universities.

April Arnold, left, ACI executive director, and Lyn Bulman, chair, ACI Board of Trustees

April Arnold, left, ACI executive director, and Lyn Bulman, chair, ACI Board of Trustees

“What brought you here today? Maybe it’s because you understand the value of liberal arts education and want to see future generations thrive,” Bulman said. “Or perhaps it’s because you want to do what you can to ensure that all students — but particularly those who are diverse, first generation, low-to-moderate income – have an opportunity to obtain a college degree.”

In the past year, ACI surveyed member schools, compared ACI to similar state councils, and others to understand the most important factors in meeting student needs, Arnold said. As a result, ACI is examining strategies, messaging and operations, while developing partnerships and adjusting programs as needed. “The deepening of our collective investment in student success creates positive ripple effects for our member schools, our communities and our state. ‘The Future We Lead’ is ambitious, it is hopeful, and it cannot be achieved without you,” she added.

Rob Johnson, Rob Johnson Communications and ACI board member, was master of ceremonies. ACI Benefit Luncheon sponsors included Environmental Design International Inc., Fiducient Advisors, Gallagher, Hogan Marren Babbo & Rose, Ltd., Husch Blackwell, Jackson Lewis, Robbins Schwartz and TTX Co.

Our Sponors — Thank you!


Board Considers Research Findings and ACI’s Future, Approves Budget, Reelects Members
May 2, 2023 
Lyn Bulman, chair, ACI Board of Trustees

Lyn Bulman, chair, ACI Board of Trustees

Participants at ACI’s 2023 Annual Meeting focused on research findings and the organization’s future, while also approving a budget for the fiscal year beginning June 1, plus reelecting and appointing board members and Executive Committee members. The meeting was led by Lyn Bulman, chair, ACI Board of Trustees.

The board spent most of the meeting discussing findings from two research studies: A member survey, conducted by David Schreier and Associates, reported by board member Kimberly Marshall, FORVIS, LLP, and a benchmarking survey of five state councils that, like ACI, are fundraising councils, reported by board member Leah Wallace, retired from Citi. The councils included the Iowa College Foundation, Michigan College Alliance, Missouri Colleges Fund, Inc., Ohio Foundation of Independent Colleges and Virginia Foundation for Independent Colleges. Board members also heard updates from each of its five committees.

The post-pandemic environment has given many organizations the opportunity to review their programming and delivery on mission. As a result of shifting dynamics in the economy and on members campuses, the future ACI leads must also shift to be responsive, said April Arnold, ACI executive director.

“We have many unique decisions to make, more questions to ask and more research to do. We’re building a new bike while riding it,” Arnold said, noting that member schools also face challenges.

As a result of ongoing discussions by board members and findings from the research studies – with more to be reported and considered – the board approved a $1.2 million budget for the upcoming fiscal year. Budget considerations included aligning expenses with members assessments, focusing on programs most important to members and that yield funding, and learning from state councils, Arnold said.

The adopted budget includes realignments of staff and a plan to investigate ways to allocate expenses and funding for an annual fundraising event in a different way, with permission from existing corporate sponsors and contributors Arnold added. The organizational focus for the coming year will remain on scholarship support, mentoring opportunities and internship development.

Board members reappointed
Board members reappointed six members to new two-year terms. They are Elizabeth Cook, MiCat Group, LLC/CME Group board member; Robert J. Dow, Graystone Consulting; Nichole Johnson, Gallagher; Raymond E. Krouse, Jr., Sikich, LLP; Leslie J. Sawyer, Environmental Design International, Inc.; and Nicholas A. Simpson, Jackson Lewis, P.C.

Two presidents were named to the Executive Committee. President S. Georgia Nugent, Illinois Wesleyan University, was reappointed ACI president for the next two years. President David J. Livingston, Lewis University, was appointed to the Executive Committee as a member-at-large.

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