CICC Member Spotlight


Washington by the Numbers

  • Washington is home to 15 idependent 4-year colleges and universities, educating more than 40,000 students.
  • In 2018-19, students at all Washington colleges and universities received:
    • 109,881 Pell Grant Awards totaling $428,742,681
    • 30,096 Federal Work-Study Awards and Supplemental Education Opportunity Grants (SEOG). totaling $33,724,191
  • Rep. Kilmer’s district includes three independent colleges:


Derek Kilmer (D-WA)


  Rep. Derek Kilmer   Derek Kilmer has served as the Representative for Washington’s 6th Congressional District since 2013. He currently serves on the powerful House Appropriations Committee, as the Chair of the Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress, and as the Chair of the New

Democrat Coalition. In the 116th Congress, Rep. Kilmerhas taken on the role of co-chair of the Congressional Independent Colleges Caucus, succeeding former Rep. Mike Capuano (MA-07). Outside of his work in Congress, Rep. Kilmer serves on the Board of Trustees of Princeton University and previously served as trustee for Tacoma Community College.

Q: Why did you decide to co-chair the Congressional Independent Colleges Caucus?
A: I believe that education is the great equalizer. It gives young people a chance to succeed in life regardless of the circumstances of their birth. As the son of two retired public-school teachers, I’ve seen the transformational power of the important work done by our educators and by educational institutions. Attending a private, nonprofit college helped me get to where I am today. I want to continue to support these institutions, so I was excited by the opportunity to serve as
co-chair of the Congressional Independent Colleges Caucus.



"Rep. Derek Kilmer is, perhaps, among the rarest of
birds in Congress these days because he both appreciates
and understands American higher education. He appreciates
the complex challenges that confront education, along with
the economic and social value it provides to our communities.
Most important, Derek understands how higher education is transformative and our best course to address systemic
poverty and inequality, not only for our students but for their
children and for generations to come.”

- Isiaah Crawford Ph.D.  
President, University of Puget Sound (


Q: What contributions are independent colleges making in your district?
A: Importantly, the colleges in my state are offering top-notch educational opportunities to their students, supporting my state’s effort to educate more people to higher levels. Beyond that, though, our region’s private, nonprofit colleges have an explicit and consistent dedication to community engagement and collaboration. For example, in the city of Tacoma, there is incredible work being done to discuss and advance the work of social justice and entrepreneurship for our region’s most vulnerable citizens. Often, these gatherings and public engagement events are hosted at and feature major contributions from the
University of Puget Sound and from Pacific Lutheran University (which is just outside the boundary of my district). I am proud of the legacy of service of these amazing institutions.
Q: How do you see these schools innovating?
A: Our region is blessed with colleges and universities that are not satisfied with resting on their laurels. Whether it be through the implementation of rich interdisciplinary curricula, the recruitment and retention of stellar faculty, or the maintenance of a vibrant and rich environment of student life, our region’s colleges and universities continue to lead the way forward for a better and brighter tomorrow.



"Congressman Derek Kilmer’s commitment to bipartisanship
and economic development make him a strong representative
for our state. Kilmer is a visible leader within our community.
He shows up for essential conversations about job creation,
civil rights and access to a quality education, as well as
building a sense of full community with all during times of collective tragedy and celebration."

- Allan Belton  
President, Pacific Lutheran University (WA)  



Q: As a Member of Congress, how do you support the opportunity for education?
A: I look at education as the door to opportunity. For a lot of families – including mine – financial aid can be the key to that door. I think Congress has a duty to ensure that key is available to everyone who needs it. I’ve been active in supporting federal investments in our student aid programs to ensure ALL students have the opportunity to pursue higher education. PELL grants, the Federal Work Study Program, and Perkins loans are critical resources that help low-income and underserved students get ahead. Two and a half centuries ago, Benjamin Franklin wrote, “an investment in knowledge pays the greatest interest.” As a member of the House Appropriations Committee, I have fought to uphold that ethic.
Q: How has your own experience attending a private, nonprofit college impacted you?
A:  The trajectory of my life changed substantially because of my college experience. I grew up in a small timber town in Washington State.  At Princeton, I got to meet classmates from all over the world who have become friends for life. I got to learn from professors who were at the top of their field. Perhaps most importantly, my college experience helped instill the notion of service in my life and reinforced my desire to come back home to make a difference in the community in which I grew up. I was a public policy major, and my senior thesis focused on the economic challenges facing my hometown. I put my education into practice, first as a business consultant and then working in economic development for a decade. As a public servant, I’m now representing my hometown and other communities in my region – working to create more economic opportunity, for more people, in more places.



"We are proud that Representative Kilmer is leading the
Congressional Independent Colleges Caucus. He is quick to
talk about the role that independent higher education
played in his own life and is a steadfast champion of
students having the chance to enroll at the college or
university that best fits their educational aspirations.
We applaud his commitment to promoting a diversity of
options in higher education and we greatly
appreciate his support!"

- Terri Standish-Kuon, Ph.D.  
President, Independent Colleges of Washington  



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