NextGen Entrepreneurial Girl Scout Case Study

Impacts of NC IDEA’s NextGen Entrepreneur Workshops Ripple Far Beyond Girl Scout Cookie Sales


Location: Central and Eastern North Carolina 

Two Girl Scouts sitting working on a project with a copy of Who Owns the Ice House on the tableNumber of one-day workshops: 4

Number of Girl Scouts served: 74

Grade level of participants: 4th to 11th 

Number of adults engaged: 36

Year-to-year increase in cookie sales: 8.4%

Total 2024 cookie sales: 35,656 boxes


NC IDEA, a private foundation committed to supporting entrepreneurial ambition and economic empowerment in North Carolina, has a strong framework for bringing the power of entrepreneurial thinking to North Carolinians through the deployment of the Ice House Entrepreneurship Programs. NC IDEA MINDSET is a program that supports educators and facilitators across the state to develop entrepreneurial mindsets in their communities. Typically, these workshops bring together people who don’t know each other and unite them around the common goal of starting a business. There’s also an online, self-paced version of the program. But the NC IDEA team had an idea: Why not bring the Ice House content to groups that are already established and incorporate it into their existing programming? 

Kate Wiggins, the former program support manager at NC IDEA, pitched that idea to the Girl Scouts—North Carolina Coastal Pines, a council serving 41 counties in central and eastern North Carolina. Laura Lee Davis, Vice President of Girl Experience at Girl Scouts—North Carolina 

Kate Wiggins and Laura Lee Davis Facilitating Girl Scout Workshop

Coastal Pines immediately recognized the potential benefits. “It will do amazing things for our cookie program—but it goes way beyond that,” Davis said. She agreed to co-produce a series of workshops to help fourth to 12th-grade girls amplify their business skills and explore pathways to innovative leadership.


NC IDEA set out to develop a blueprint that membership organizations could follow to launch their own Ice House Entrepreneurship Programs.

Wiggins, herself a former Girl Scout, undertook the task of aligning the content of the book “Who Owns the Ice House? Eight Life Lessons from an Unlikely Entrepreneur” with the requirements for each entrepreneurship badge (which vary by level). Rather than offering NextGen workshops within individual troops, Wiggins and Davis decided to emphasize the importance of long-term connections by partnering with small business centers at local community colleges. “It’s important for the girls to know that entrepreneurship isn’t something you do alone,” Wiggins explained. “Successful entrepreneurs have support.”

The NextGen workshop leaders were recruited from NC IDEA’s statewide network of Ice House-trained facilitators. Some had been Girl Scouts; others had no background with the organization. Although the call for facilitators was open to anyone, all of the candidates were women—and Wiggins realized that was serendipitous. “It means something for girls to see a smart woman at the front of the room because you need to see it to be it,” she said. “It is fundamental to Girl Scouts that women support and learn from each other and grow in community together.”

Even after months of careful planning, just before the series started in the fall of 2023, Wiggins admitted to having butterflies. “It feels a little intimidating because I don’t know what’s ahead. I’ve gone through the whole Opportunity Discovery process myself!” she said with a laugh.


Four workshops were held over three months’ time, hosted by Durham Technical Community College, Wake Tech Community College in Raleigh, Cape Fear Community College in Wilmington, and Robeson Community College in Lumberton. Each followed the same schedule:

  • During check-in from 9:30 to 10 a.m., each girl received a copy of the Ice House book and had the opportunity to participate in hands-on engagement activities to get them thinking creatively.
  • Facilitators delivered the Ice House content during the main session from 10 to 10:30 a.m. 
  • Participants split into groups by Girl Scout level for breakout sessions.
  • Over lunch, Davis lined up guest speakers from the local community. For example, at the Durham Tech event, architect Kristen Hess—a Girl Scout through grade 12 and Gold Award Scout—spoke about starting her own firm, HH Architecture. 
  • The speakers provided motivation and tips going into the mini-pitch sessions, where participants demonstrated how well they met the Girl Scouts’ requirement for market research and the Ice House’s customer discovery component. 
  • After receiving feedback, the participants had time for additional work on their projects and pitches.
  • The day ended with final pitches and a graduation ceremony to distribute entrepreneurship badges and Ice House certificates of completion.

The number of facilitators varied depending on the number of attendees, but typically, there were three, one for each age group. While the girls were in the workshop, family members and troop leaders had the option of attending a parallel session to learn more about the Ice House model, both to buttress what their Girl Scouts had learned and to jump-start their own entrepreneurial mindset.


Some of the NextGen workshop content was intended to prompt the girls’ thinking about their mid-winter troop cookie sale programs, with the goal of enhancing the thoughtfulness of their approach and their confidence as they approached customers. 

In the spring, participants were invited back for events where they had the opportunity to do another workshop with Wiggins. Younger levels (Daisies, Brownies, and Juniors) were invited to MiniQuest 2024 in late March, where a “Pitch Perfect” station from NC IDEA was part of the expo. Older levels (Cadettes, Seniors, and Ambassadors) could attend the signature Thrive event on April 20 in Wilmington, where Wiggins kicked off the day for all participants with a presentation on the entrepreneurial mindset. She later led workshops called “What’s the Big Idea?” which used a modified version of the Opportunity Discovery canvas.

September 2023 Durham, North Carolina Girl Scout Workshop Group Photo

The similarities between the Opportunity Discovery canvas and the process girls use while working toward Girl Scouting’s Bronze, Silver, and Gold Award were a topic of discussion throughout the event. To earn these awards, Girl Scouts identify an issue they care about, research it thoroughly, make a plan to address it, and then take action to create a lasting improvement in their community. 



Davis said that in 2023 at Girl Scouts—North Carolina Coastal Pines:

  • 39 Girl Scouts earned the Gold Award, totaling more than 3,500 hours of service in their communities.
  • 156 Girl Scouts earned the Silver Award, totaling more than 7,800 hours of service in their communities.
  • 404 Girl Scouts earned the Bronze Award, totaling over 8,000 hours of service in their communities.

“That’s over 19,000 hours dedicated to making a lasting impact and making the world a better place,” Davis said. “Where others saw issues, these Girl Scouts saw opportunities!”


Despite Wiggins’ initial butterflies, the NextGen workshops were successful on every level for both NC IDEA and the Girl Scouts—North Carolina Coastal Pines. Although there were logistical challenges, including transportation barriers in rural areas and severe weather that forced the cancellation of one event, the four workshops drew 74 participants in grades four through 11. Among Girl Scouts who sold cookies in both 2023 and 2024, sales increased by an average of 8.4%. Some individuals posted tremendous gains, both in their percentage of sales—as much as 397% in one case—and in sheer numbers, with the top seller increasing from 4,000 to 5,129 boxes. 

In terms of the curriculum, “layering Ice House over the entrepreneurship badge was a pretty natural fit,” Wiggins said. Many skills girls learn through the cookie sales program, such as financial literacy, goal-setting, planning, and collaboration, also align with the life lessons; Wiggins noted that Girl Scout’s promise to “be a sister” goes along especially well with Ice House’s community element and helps young women appreciate the value of being in a community where everyone wants to see each other succeed. 


In reflecting on the workshops after the series was complete, the participants’ creativity stood out to Wiggins. As expected, some girls came in with a business idea or community need they wanted to address. “Some were cookie-adjacent, and some were totally unrelated,” she said. Some of Wiggins’ favorite examples included: 

  • An individual who noticed that her cookies sold well outside a home improvement store ahead of Super Bowl weekend started promoting a sundae bar featuring cookies, ice cream, and various toppings. She made shopping lists for all the ingredients to hand out along with the cookies.
  • At Durham Tech, one participant who wanted to market homemade slime as a kids’ toy also developed another version adults could use as a keyboard cleaner.
  • One individual who was a top seller in her county shared her strategies for upselling via YouTube videos for her peers.
  • A trio of elementary students at the Wilmington workshop whose sustainability-focused project involved repurposing cardboard cookie boxes as planters—mint in the Thin Mints boxes, for instance—that could be sold to raise additional money for their troops.


The cookie box planters also left an impression on facilitator Katrina Wiggins. “The problem they were solving is that cookie boxes create waste, so they wanted to recycle the boxes and turn them into planters that can be placed in the ground,” she said. “They named each one after the cookie on the box—they got that granular. I was blown away.”

Sixth-grader Adelia, age 11, attended the NextGen workshop at Cape Fear Community College in November and the Thrive event in Wilmington in April. “I decided to do the NextGen event because being an entrepreneur sounded fun,” she wrote in a follow-up email. “Since I got all the information from the event, it helped me build and grow my slime business. It was fun putting together a business model with my friends.”

She put the plan into practice just a few weeks later. “I started my slime business after Christmas,” she wrote. “I love to make slime and decided I had too much laying around the house, so I started selling it to my friends at school.” 

At the Thrive event, the Cadette Girl Scout said she “learned that the cost of starting a business and supplies is important to keep track of. I plan to write down my cost of supplies for my slime business to help me gain a profit.”

Kate Wiggins has already offered the workshop blueprint to other Girl Scout organizations within North Carolina. “Now that we have some metrics and lessons learned and we know a little more about the outcomes, we can offer this to others who already have an engaged audience and want to incorporate this entrepreneurial mindset curriculum,” she said. 


The NextGen workshops resulted in a ripple of unintended benefits as well. Kate Wiggins said the small business centers were enthusiastic about the sessions for parents, which contributed to their total number of individuals trained for the year. And they enjoyed hosting the girls. “Allowing us to participate in and host such a meaningful program at our Orange County Campus was one of the highlights of 2023,” wrote Jonathan Collins, former director of the Small Business Center at Durham Tech’s Center for Workforce Engagement. “We viewed the event as a huge success.”

Two Thrive event attendees from Wilmington, Caroline and Haylie, said the workshops taught them there are a lot of issues to be solved and many possible ways to solve them. It also taught them that breaking challenges down into small parts is a useful strategy for entrepreneurs. This was especially helpful for the large-scale problems their teams tackled—the insufficiency of minimum wage and the quality shortcomings inherent to fast fashion, respectively—and they found that working with other girls made it more fun to brainstorm solutions. 

After the Robeson Community College event, one of the parents reached out to Davis with a follow-up email about the experience: “Just wanted to tell you thank you again for today’s event,” she wrote. “It really turned out great. Great information for girls and moms. Please let Tasha [Williams, the facilitator] know my daughter really enjoyed her class. She said it was a fantastic day. That really made this Mom smile.”


However, perhaps the most surprising outcome was facilitator Christina Williams’ decision to become a co-leader of Troop 177 in Rocky Mount, North Carolina. “Just being around these young ladies inspired me to join a troop,” she said. After the workshops in Wilmington and Lumberton, “I recognized the potential of what Girl Scouts can do for these young ladies,” Williams said. “I had never been in Girl Scouts, and I wanted to ensure that other young ladies are afforded this opportunity.” 

In its first year, Troop 177 grew to 29 girls and turned a profit on its inaugural cookie sale. To learn more about the inspiring experiences of Williams and her fellow NextGen facilitator Katrina Wiggins, read this blog post