College Completion Innovation Fund
2019 Award Cycle

Graduate NYC’s College Completion Innovation Fund aims to significantly increase college graduation rates in New York City by harnessing the collective expertise and impact of a wide range of philanthropic and education organizations. It seeks to invest $1,000,000 to innovative projects in the college persistence and completion sector for the 2019 Award Cycle.

Two-Step Application Process

To help build capacity and encourage greater innovation among education and nonprofit organizations, the CCIF will sponsor a two-step process during winter 2019.

In the initial stage, leaders and staff from up to 25 organizations will have the opportunity to participate in a Completion Innovation Series, led by Inno.Cat, experts in design thinking* approaches to problem solving. After participating in the two-day series, participating organizations will be invited to develop and submit a full proposal to implement their innovative practice.  Organizations are able to participate in a follow up coaching session with an inno.Cat facilitator during the proposal development process.

After a review of full proposals, the CCIF intends to invest in at least four of these innovative programs.  Organizations may request grants of up to $200,000 to support work over the course of one to two years.

*Design thinking and other methods introduced in this workshop help problem-solvers to think in new ways, turning their insights into sustainable solutions (i.e., new programs) for their constituents.


Eligible parties include New York City-based undergraduate colleges (public or nonprofit) and nonprofit community-based organizations, with a minimum of three years of experience implementing college access, retention, and/or success work for low-income students. Interested organizations should complete a brief application, which outlines the specific challenges to be addressed and the students who will be served.  Additionally, applicants must identify two or three project leaders who can commit to participating in the two-day College Completion Innovation Series (ideally one of the participants should be a program director or other comparable position). Partnering organizations should have representatives from each organization present at the series.

A majority of those served by eligible projects must be low-income students, first-generation college students, students of color or others who are traditionally underrepresented among college degree holders. Organizations must have a demonstrated record of tracking and using data to inform programming, and demonstrated staff capacity to carry out the proposed project. Award recipients must have a 501(c)(3) designation.

Funding Categories

The College Completion Innovation Series will support institutions and organizations in developing innovative project proposals to address issues of completion by significantly improving student outcomes in one of the following categories :

  • Improving Transfer Student Success
  • Increasing Momentum (Improving efficiency and decreasing time to degree, including for part-time students)
  • Supporting Near Completers/Comebackers

The CCIF continues to be interested in serving all underrepresented populations among degree holders, including first-generation college-goers, low-income students, young men of color, immigrant students, justice involved youth, students with disabilities, and those aging out of the foster care system.


  • A two-page application for organizations seeking to participate in the College Completion Innovation Series is due Friday, December 21, 2018.
  • The College Completion Innovation Series will take place on Tuesday, January 29 and Tuesday, February 26, 2019.
  • Following participation in the series, GNYC will invite organizations to submit a full proposal. GNYC will notify organizations if they have been awarded a CCIF grant in May 2019, and funded projects are expected to launch in September 2019.


When is the application due?

Applications for the 2019 Grantmaking Cycle are due at close of business on Friday, December 21.

When will I be notified as to whether my organization is invited to participate in the College Completion Innovation Series?

Organizations will be notified on Thursday, January 17 as to whether they have been invited to participate in the College Completion Innovation Series.

What if I am interested in addressing summer melt through this grant?

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.

Is College Completion Innovation Series attendance mandatory if I attended during the 2018 Grantmaking Cycle?

College Completion Innovation Series attendance would be optional in this case, but please contact Melissa Herman ( in order to discuss.


Please click the image below to view the
CCIF 2019 Award Cycle Informational Webinar 

CCIF 2019 Webinar