Foundation co-founder, $1M donor dies in Nov.


Photo courtesy of Carlene Cassidy

Carole Ratcliffe, who donated more than $1 million to AACC’s entrepreneurship program, passed away the weekend of Nov. 10.

Sarah Noble, Multimedia Editor

Carole Ratcliffe, a long-time donor and supporter of AACC’s Entrepreneurial Studies Institute, passed away in November.

Ratcliffe was best known for co-founding the Philip E. and Carole R. Ratcliffe Foundation with her husband.

The Ratcliffes donated millions of dollars to schools like the University of Miami, the Maryland Institute College of Art and Salisbury University.

According to Carlene Cassidy, chair of the Entrepreneurial Studies Institute, since 2003 the Ratcliffes donated $100,000 each year to the college to support entrepreneurship students.

Since their involvement with the college started, the Ratcliffes have helped dozens of students pay for classes and launch their businesses.

One of the first students to receive the scholarship was Heather Howe.

Howe, who owns a bakery on Kent Island, said the Ratcliffes’ contributions took a weight off of her shoulders.

Howe said the scholarship allowed her to finish her double major, earn an entrepreneurship degree and teach elementary and high school students at Kids in College, an after-school program at AACC.

“Now I have my own bakery that’s been open for six and a half years,” she said. “It’s all because of the [Ratcliffe Foundation’s Entrepreneurs] Scholarship and Foundation.”

Howe said she was good friends with Ratcliffe.

“She was able to help so much and not ask for anything in return,” Howe said.

Cassidy said Ratcliffe didn’t just help students financially, but with business advice and friendships.

“She was super competitive but not in an ugly way,” Cassidy said. “She was competitive in the way that elevated everybody around her. She brought out the best in others in such a genuine way.”

Cassidy said her experiences with Ratcliffe helped shape her to become a better leader.

“One of her superpowers was bringing out the best in other people,” she said. “She saw potential in every single person around her.  She’s the epitome of a servant leader.”

“She was an amazing woman with a lot of passion,” said AACC President Dawn Lindsay.

Dalton Leonard, a fourth-year student and Ratcliffe recipient, said without the scholarship, he wouldn’t be a full-time student.

“[Ratcliffe] allowed me to go back to school full time … and eliminated my financial fear,” he said. “She was a wonderful mentor and person.”