Connecting Ratcliffe Foundation Grantees to the NACCE Network

Posted By: Dr. Rebecca Corbin NACCE Blog,

Exploring networks and finding common connections is one of the guiding principles of entrepreneurship. To maximize this dynamic, Carlene Cassidy, CEO of the Ratcliffe Foundation and one of the original 138 founding NACCE members, conceived of the idea to pool the foundation’s grantees together, including NACCE, to explore mutual opportunities. In the spirit of true entrepreneurship, a group of more than three dozen participants assembled in June at Anne Arundel Community College in Arnold, Maryland, to do just that.

“We thought that Ratcliffe Foundation grantees might benefit from engagement with the NACCE network.” 

- Carlene Cassidy, CEO, Ratcliffe Foundation

Finding Connections

Through a series of listening sessions, members of the NACCE team and other foundation grantees explored ways to work together. Participants also connected with each other by engaging in activities outlined in NACCE’s Playbook, and they learned how to thread diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB) into their entrepreneurial activities. As NACCE celebrates its 20th anniversary this year, it seemed timely to renew the organization’s commitment to entrepreneurship by tapping into the nationwide network of innovators and entrepreneurs tied to the Ratcliffe Foundation.

“We thought that Ratcliffe Foundation grantees might benefit from engagement with the NACCE network,” said Carlene Cassidy. “While many Ratcliffe grantees are community colleges, others include universities and nonprofit organizations. Getting these groups together and exploring new opportunities was a primary goal of the summit.”

Effectuation Revisited

The workshop focused on the model of Effectuation developed by researcher and educator Saras Sarasvathy, of the Darden School of Business at the University of Virginia. The effectuation model embodies the mode of thinking used by entrepreneurs to build successful ventures. It consists of five guiding principles that include: Bird-in-Hand; Lemonade; Crazy Quilt, Pilot-in-the Plane; and Affordable Loss. Seizing a “bird-in-hand” opportunity, the Ratcliffe Foundation Board of Directors held its board meeting in conjunction with the workshop to give foundation leaders the opportunity to meet staff from funded projects as well as members of the NACCE team.

Celebrating the Future

Natalie Shaw, director of grants for Harford Community College in Bel Air, Maryland, expressed her appreciation for the experience. “Thank you so much for leading an incredible summit! I really enjoyed the workshop and learned a lot about myself and my fellow attendees. I’m looking forward to collaborating with them in the future,” she said.

At NACCE, we believe that entrepreneurial mindset and action, activated at the personal and professional level is what will transform colleges and communities. Natalie’s expression of joy of the workshop experience and excitement about future collaboration aligns with the Entrepreneurial College of the Future initiative and NACCE’s commitment to meeting the needs of students in the 21st Century. What better way to observe NACCE’s 20th anniversary than to celebrate the founding principles of entrepreneurship that help make NACCE what it is today!