MICA to launch Ratcliffe Center for Creative Entrepreneurship

The center, infusing creative entrepreneurship training into art and design education, further advances the College’s forward-looking mission.

Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) announces the creation of the Ratcliffe Center for Creative Entrepreneurship. Meeting MICA’s educational mission to empower students to forge creative and purposeful lives and careers, this center is made possible thanks to an extraordinary $5 million gift from the Philip E. and Carole R. Ratcliffe Foundation.

Building on MICA’s dedicated commitment to helping creatives develop innovative, socially-conscious businesses, the Ratcliffe Center addresses the evolving needs of students and alumni in the new creative economy. Its activities reflect a comprehensive range of strategies, including curricular, co-curricular and experiential programming; and competition and entrepreneurship showcases. Business skills and 21st-century entrepreneurship training will be embedded into MICA’s curriculum.

The center will serve not only MICA students at all stages of undergraduate, graduate and continuing education, but also alumni through MICA’s extensive network of mentors and access to startup incubators.

“MICA is profoundly grateful for this extraordinary gift from the Philip E. and Carole R. Ratcliffe Foundation. With the rich range of initiatives that the funding supports, MICA takes a collegewide approach to infuse creative entrepreneurship training into art and design, ” MICA President Samuel Hoi said.

“Artists and designers are natural entrepreneurs; yet, a traditional art school curriculum seldom activates that potential. In 2016, MICA and the foundation partnered to forge a new path with the annual UP/Start Venture Competition, which has spurred creative businesses founded by the Colleges immediate graduates,” Hoi added. “Now, we partner again to broaden entrepreneurship education and support in scale. The naming of the new Ratcliffe Center for Creative Entrepreneurship honors the legacy of Carole and Philip, whose spirit lives on at MICA.” 


The $5 million gift from The Philip E. and Carole R. Ratcliffe Foundation will support the development, launch and ramp-up of the Ratcliffe Center over six years. 

The new center is integral to MICA’s Career Development efforts. Its programming and activities will begin in Spring 2020. Its future home, expected to open in Fall 2021, will be housed in a renovated space in the 81 Mosher Street building, which was acquired by MICA in 2016. 

The new space will co-locate the Ratcliffe Center and the Joseph Meyerhoff Center for Career Development with a number of partnering College initiatives — from Creative Citizenship, Identity & Inclusion, International Education, to Teaching/Innovation/Exchange — to optimize their synergy and educational impact. 


This transformative gift from the Philip E. and Carole R. Ratcliffe Foundation is the third largest in MICA’s history and the third gift from the foundation in the last five years.

The first foundation gift, in 2015, helped establish the now annual MICA UP/Start Venture Competition and the College’s MICApreneurship program. That gift — $600,000 over three years — provided $200,000 per year for these programs, and in 2017, the foundation made a second gift commitment of $600,000 for three more years.

MICA’s annual UP/Start Venture Competition — an initiative of MICApreneurship and spearheaded by the Joseph Meyerhoff Center for Career Development — focuses on building creative business ventures initiated by students and immediate graduates, and provides capital and mentorship with industry partners to help nurture ideas into sustainable businesses. Current students and alumni who graduated the previous year can participate.

A leading example among peer art and design colleges, the MICApreneurship and UP/Start programs demonstrate that MICA is well-positioned to establish the Ratcliffe Center as a national model for best practices in the delivery of creative entrepreneurship education. The center is a prime example of MICA’s integrative education in art and design, and its goal is to advance creative entrepreneurship across campus and beyond. 

In addition to the center, the foundation also supports the curricular development of a creative entrepreneurship concentration at MICA. This concentration will incorporate hands-on learning, networking, budgeting, project management, and critical-thinking skills that help artists and designers forge purposeful and successful lives and careers.

“The Philip E. and Carole R. Ratcliffe Foundation is honored to commit $5 million to establish a comprehensive center for creative entrepreneurship at MICA,” James D. Wright, co-trustee of the Ratcliffe Foundation, said. “The College is embracing the spirit of entrepreneurship and how it can inspire students, foster innovation and build the creative economy. President Hoi is committed to building a nationally-recognized model for entrepreneurship in the field of art and design which will help artists thrive during their career at MICA and beyond.”