NACCE Press Releases,


The National Association for Community College Entrepreneurship (NACCE) is pleased to announce a new three-year partnership and $900,000 in grant funding from the Philip E. & Carole R. Ratcliffe Foundation (the Ratcliffe Foundation). The partnership leverages a three-year commitment to collaborate with community colleges to build entrepreneurial mindset training and business opportunities in the trades and apprenticeships.

“We are delighted to partner with NACCE to create the Philip E. & Carole R. Ratcliffe Foundation Center of Entrepreneurship & Innovation. This is the first named Center of Practice for NACCE that will expand support of nationwide entrepreneurship and training in the skilled trades. The Center will foster job creation in the trades by collaborating with community colleges to expand the entrepreneurial mindset and business opportunities in the trades and apprenticeships. A focus on the skilled trades and entrepreneurship was very important to Philip and Carole Ratcliffe and the named Center will honor their legacy in perpetuity through NACCE,” said Carlene Cassidy, CEO of the Ratcliffe Foundation.

In 2019, NACCE was awarded a $100,000 grant by the Ratcliffe Foundation to support entrepreneurs. This grant fund made possible NACCE’s 2019 Pitch for the Trades competition, hosted at NACCE’s annual conference in Newport Beach, Calif. Sixteen teams competed in this inaugural Pitch for the Trades, which resulted in 5 colleges receiving awards ranging from $8,000 to $22,000.

The new three-year funding proposal provides for the continuation of the Pitch for the Trades competition in 2020 and in future years, targeting emerging trades and industries as determined annually by a nationwide survey of stakeholders. In an effort to spread the net as wide as possible and to encourage participation by all NACCE schools, the first round of the Pitch for the Trades competition will be hosted virtually. At the conclusion of the virtual phase, 6-10 finalists will be invited to pitch live at the annual NACCE conference for $125,000 in cash awards. The live pitch competition will face a panel of judges including Philip E. & Carole R. Ratcliffe Foundation CEO Carlene Cassidy. These judges will determine award winners and funding awarded in each competition.

Pitch for the Trades winners will have the chance to implement their programs and to seed the creation of new businesses via NACCE’s Everyday Entrepreneur Venture Fund (EEVF), a model which matches all national dollars with local dollars to maintain the sustainability of the program. The goal of EEVF is to foster entrepreneurship and provide funding otherwise not available to start-ups and scale-ups with an eye towards innovation, diversity, inclusion, and local economic growth.

“NACCE is so pleased that the Philip E. and Carole R. Ratcliffe Foundation stepped forward to provide leadership and funding in a time where people across our nation are experiencing stress due to the economic downturn, the pandemic, and ongoing racial inequality. This new Center of Practice offers opportunities to community colleges to experiment with innovative approaches to workforce development and business creation through skilled trades. It also provides women, people of color, veterans and others who are under-resourced with an opportunity to become entrepreneurs and provide for their families,” said Rebecca Corbin, President & CEO of NACCE.

NACCE welcomes this long-term partnership opportunity with the Philip E. & Carole R. Ratcliffe Foundation. Together, we will build on our collective success by expanding training and opportunities in the skilled trades, which will result in the creation of jobs across the nation.

For more information, visit us online at Learn more about this partnership at

NACCE is an organization of educators, administrators, presidents and entrepreneurs focused on igniting entrepreneurship in their communities and campuses. NACCE has two main goals: to empower college leaders to approach the business of running a community college with an entrepreneurial mindset and to grow the community college's role in supporting job creation and entrepreneurs in their local ecosystem. NACCE has over 340 member colleges, representing nearly 2,000 members and approximately 3.3 million students. For more information, visit Follow us on Twitter at @NACCE, like us on Facebook, and join our LinkedIn group.

About The Philip E. and Carole R. Ratcliffe Foundation
The Philip E. and Carole R. Ratcliffe Foundation operates as a charitable organization designed to encourage and reward entrepreneurship, create jobs and expand economic opportunity. Based in Annapolis Maryland, the Ratcliffe Foundation provides funds to institutions to encourage entrepreneurship in non-traditional business fields such as the arts, design, health care, environmental science, aquaculture and skilled trades. The Ratcliffe Foundation strives to integrate its programs with the local communities through mentorships and business involvement. Learn more at

Do you have an entrepreneurial idea that needs a little funding boost? Do you have a project in mind that clearly identifies a solution to the challenge of encouraging innovation, capacity, and interest in support of the skilled trades? Does your idea improve access to education in the skilled trades, facilitate economic development in the skilled trades, build capacity, boost underserved populations, expand skilled trades internships or apprenticeship programs?
If so, NACCE and the Philip E. & Carole R. Ratcliffe Foundation Center of Entrepreneurship & Innovation are looking for you to pitch us your idea! Details about this year’s virtual pitch competition are being shared at make/SHIFT Virtual, July 20 - 24, and during the August NACCE member webinar, August 12, 2020. Join us in hearing from 2019 Pitch for the Trades winners as they share their progress on their projects, lessons learned and tips they might have for future “pitchers”.