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Friday, August 23, 2013

Ratcliffe Foundation Donates $1 Million for Innovative Entrepreneurial Program at SU

SALISBURY, MD---With an eye to bolstering employment, a Baltimore-based foundation has committed $1 million to the Franklin P. Perdue School of Business at Salisbury University for grants and loan guarantees to start new businesses.

Over a five-year period, the Philip E. and Carole R. Ratcliffe Foundation will offer as much as $200,000 annually to entrepreneurs looking to create startups.  One of the Foundation’s goals:  to have new businesses opening within six months with the potential of employing five or more within a year.

Two- and four-year college graduates residing in the Mid-Atlantic region are eligible. This includes all of Maryland, Delaware, Virginia and the District of Columbia. Proposals from New York and New Jersey also will be considered.

The program begins immediately, with the first batch of applications due Friday, September 6.

“We are most grateful to the Ratcliffe Foundation for considering a unique approach to business education—helping young people to launch new businesses.  Salisbury University has a quarter-century tradition of encouraging and investing in newly minted entrepreneurs through its Bernstein business plan competition.  We think the combination of substantive grants and mentoring by successful professionals will offer some exciting, real-world possibilities,” said SU President Janet Dudley-Eshbach. 

“Mrs. Ratcliffe and I are proud of our involvement with the Philip E. and Carole R. Ratcliffe Foundation and its association with Salisbury University.  The Foundation was established to encourage the spirit of, and teach the skills for, entrepreneurship and we believe that the new initiatives at the Perdue School of Business will succeed in furthering these goals.  We look forward to a long and fruitful relationship with the University,” said James D. Wright, Foundation co-trustee.

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With a nod to its Eastern Shore location and home within the Perdue School, the fund is titled The Philip E. and Carole R. Ratcliffe Foundation Shore Hatchery. A unique feature is an assigned mentor who will consult with the selected entrepreneurs throughout the startup process. The mentors are experienced business people with success in founding or growing new businesses.  Mentors will be from Shore Hatchery’s  25-member board of directors, which includes Jim Perdue, President/CEO of Perdue Inc.; Mike Scarborough, founder of Scarborough Capital Management in Annapolis; Frank Gunion, owner of South Moon Under in Ocean City (Maryland’s 2013 Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year); and attorney Benjamin Willey of Bethesda. 

“Many people talk about entrepreneurship and employment,” said Bruce Rogers, a board member and president/CEO of Sherwood of Salisbury. “The million-dollar commitment by the Ratcliffe family and their foundation is unusual and notable. We are excited about their belief and investment in the Perdue philosophy.”

“An interesting aspect of the selection process is a Shark Tank-style interview,” said Dr. Bob Wood, dean of the Perdue School. “In the first round, selected applicants make a one-minute presentation to the Shore Hatchery board, followed by a four-minute question-and-answer session about their proposals. In round two, finalists deliver a 10-minute presentation with a 15-minute Q-and-A.   Successful applicants will be notified within 48 hours and will meet mentors within two weeks.  The process stimulates quick thinking and thorough preparation. ” 

The Ratcliffe Foundation is intrigued by SU’s approach to giving grants to young entrepreneurs, Wright said.  Carole and the late Philip Ratcliffe have had a love of the Chesapeake and have had a home in Talbot County.  Their foundation has a history of supporting entrepreneurial education and programs at college campuses including Anne Arundel Community College, the University of Baltimore and Mrs. Ratcliffe’s alma mater, Baldwin Wallace University in Ohio.

For more information e-mail shorehatchery@salisbury.edu.



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