Associated Colleges of Illinois

ACI News

ACI expands Peer Mentoring Program to nine colleges
June 30, 2017

Millikin University, Decatur, and Rockford University, Rockford, will join ACI’s Peer Mentoring Program beginning with the 2017-18 academic year. The addition of these two institutions brings the total number of Peer Mentoring Program campuses to nine, including Augustana College, Rock Island; Blackburn College, Carlinville; Concordia University Chicago, River Forest; Dominican University, River Forest; Monmouth College, Monmouth; North Park University, Chicago; and Quincy University, Quincy.

ACI’s Peer Mentoring Program matches first-generation college freshmen from low-income and/or minority backgrounds with trained peer mentors – usually upperclass students — from similar backgrounds. Studies show that “high-touch” peer mentoring, together with other retention-focused interventions, helps students remain in school and increases graduation rates among underserved students.

In 2017-18, ACI’s Peer Mentoring Program will serve a total of 132 students, including 22 mentors and 110 mentees. Students are organized into teams of one mentor to every five mentees, and each participating campus hosts at least two teams and may host as many as five teams. Mentors are required to developed a “success action plan” with each mentee and to maintain regular contact with them through in-person consultations, phone calls, texts and email. The goal is to help mentees navigate the challenges of freshman year by learning how to access and use campus resources that support their success and by developing productive relationships with peers, faculty and administrators.

A $30,000 First Opportunity Partners grant from the Council of Independent Colleges (CIC), with support from the UPS Foundation, was awarded to ACI this spring. The grant to expand and enhance ACI’s Expanded and Enhanced Peer Mentoring Program was awarded conditional on ACI raising matching funds.  To secure the grant, ACI raised $50,000 in pledges and gifts designated to peer mentoring by March 31 through fundraising associated with ACI’s Annual Benefit Reception.

“We are grateful to our corporate, foundation and individual supporters who helped us achieve this important step,” said Mick Weltman, ACI executive director. “The Peer Mentoring Program is a significant piece of our outreach efforts with members and first-generation students. We’re looking forward to expanding this program in the years to come.”

ACI awarded career fair matching grant by Council of Independent Colleges

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The Council of Independent Colleges (CIC) conditionally approved a National Venture Fund Challenge grant of $21,750 to ACI in support of the first ACI Career Fair. The fair is designed as an annual event exclusively for students attending ACI member institutions. The first fair is to be held in early 2018.

ACI colleges and universities recognize the challenges their graduates face in connecting with employers. “In partnership with our member colleges and universities, we believe the career fair is an effective means for these students to obtain a job, or to improve their employment opportunities, including learning about the skills valued by employers and the opportunity to gain a better understanding of the job search process,” said Mick Weltman, ACI executive director.

Under the terms of the grant agreement, ACI is required to raise at least $21,750 in new gifts by mid-September to earn the CIC funds.

“We’re proud to support ACI and its member colleges and universities through CIC’s National Venture Fund grant program,” said Richard Ekman, CIC president. “Designed to support collaborative approaches to solving major issues faced by private colleges, as well as to strengthen the role of State Councils, projects coordinated by State Council members under this initiative have had a tangible impact on the strengthening of independent colleges and universities for 17 years.”

For information about how to contribute the ACI Career Fair initiative, please contact Mick Weltman at or call 312-263-2391, ext. 0523.

Higher Education Headlines

Benefits of Liberal Arts Education

Archived stories


May 31: ACI welcomes Wheaton College, elects new leaders, OKs new mission statement
May 2: ACI 65th Anniversary Reception Focuses on Scholars, Independent Higher Education
May 2: ACI Benefit Reception Testimonials Emphasize Opportunity for Underserved Students
March 28: ACI, Call One Announce New Scholarship for Science, Technology or Business Majors
March 17: ACI Spring Professional Development Conferences Set
Feb. 17: A Liberal Arts Education Prepares Students Well, Benefits Society, Says College President
Feb. 7: ACI Welcomes Bradley Mease of Baker Tilly as Corporate Trustee
Feb. 1: ACI to Host 65th Anniversary Benefit Reception April 21 in Chicago
Jan. 20: Illinois College Presidents Connect Liberal Arts Education and Student Success
Jan. 16: ACI Welcomes Leslie Sawyer as Corporate Trustee


Dec. 14: ACI Publishes 2015-2016 Annual Report
Dec. 14: ACI Welcomes Two New Board of Trustees Members
Nov. 2: ACI Welcomes Six New Board of Trustees Members
Oct. 7: Consider Creating an ACI Named Scholarship
Sept. 9: ACI 2016 Fall Conferences Set
Sept. 9: Olivet Nazarene Named Proud Partner of the Chicago Bears
Aug. 31: Monmouth College Makes Major Jump in ‘Washington Monthly College Guide’
Aug. 29: North Central College is National Partner in the Billion Dollar Green Challenge
Aug. 24: ACI Welcomes Three New Board of Trustees Members
Aug. 24: ACI to Distribute UPS Scholarship Funds to Illinois Students
Aug. 10: Remembering Deborah M. Sawyer
Aug.9: Millikin University Department of Theatre and Dance becomes School of Theatre and Dance
Aug. 8: ACI and North Central College announce transition of Center for Success in High-Need Schools

Archived stories, cont’d

Aug. 5: Lewis University College Success Program Receives $45,000 AT&T Contribution
Aug. 5: From ACI-member North Central College: Democracy through the eyes of students
July 6: Peer Mentoring Program expands to seven campuses for 2016-17
July 1: ACI welcomes four new college and university presidents
May 27: North Central College agrees to acquire Shimer College
May 9: Laura Ortega-Lamela Appointed to ACI Board of Trustees
May 6: ACI Scholar Katherine King, Concordia University Chicago
April 27: ACI Scholar Paris Edwards, Augustana College
April 14: Welcome new board members!
April 6: ACI Welcomes Sikich LLP as a New Corporate Partner
April 6: Northwest Comprehensive Continues its ACI Corporate Partnership
March 16: ACI April 29 Reception to Recognize Scholarship Recipients, Peer Mentoring, Retiring Presidents
Feb. 25: ACI offers Conservation Careers internships for this summer
Feb. 23: Rockford University appoints Dr. Eric Fulcomer as president
Feb. 18: Elmhurst College names Dr. Troy VanAken president
Feb. 12: Greenville College tops list of state’s best online colleges and universities; 6 other ACI schools also ranked
Feb.9: Dr. David Livingston named 10th president of Lewis University
Feb. 4: Three ACI member schools cited for lowering tuition costs
Jan.7: ACI’s 2016 spring conferences set


Dec.15: Consider ACI for year-end, tax-deductible giving
Nov. 18: ACI’s Project LEAD Summit explores teacher diversity and support
Nov. 6: ACI awarded challenge grant for peer mentoring at member colleges


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