March 17, 2021

Ten Years of Unlikely Entrepreneurs

man and woman office workers high-fiving each other
By: ELIstaff

2021 marks the 10-year anniversary of the Ice House Entrepreneurship Program! It’s been a decade filled with lightbulb moments as training participants started to understand entrepreneurship as the self-directed pursuit of opportunities to create value for others. 

There are many, many success stories of people who have empowered themselves by creating value for others. What’s especially remarkable is the diversity of those individuals. From high school students in Mexico to inmates in Mississippi, or college students in Colorado and entrepreneurs in India, the Ice House Program has impacted thousands of self-proclaimed “underdogs.” Here are some notable examples. 

Meet Some of the Unlikely Entrepreneurs

  • The City of Albuquerque lists the Ice House trainings front and center on its human resources website for city employees – a testament to its commitment to encouraging new and innovative thinking in its 6,000 municipal workers.


  • Through a localized version of the Ice House Student Success Program, thousands of high school students across Mexico become more entrepreneurial. This partnership with the Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education began in 2014. 


  • When librarians in Georgia had to pivot to serve customers at home at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Georgia Public Library Service pivoted too, offering 10-week live video courses in entrepreneurial thinking. GPLS has been offering the courses since 2019, but the pandemic spotlighted how helpful the mindset can be during times of transition. 


  • Pikes Peak Community College in Colorado became the first community college in the U.S. to roll out the Ice House Entrepreneurship Program to its students. Starting in 2014, the college encouraged students to apply an entrepreneurial mindset to both their education and their lives. 


  • In Hampshire County, Mass., inmates at a pre-release house called “Bridge to the Future”, work at jobs in the community and follow strict rules to prepare them for life after incarceration. They also attend a four-week Ice House Entrepreneur Program to help with critical and creative thinking, problem solving, communication, curiosity, perseverance, and adaptability.


  • Middle school students in Erie, Penn., explore entrepreneurship through year-long interactive classroom lessons sponsored by several local nonprofits. 


  • The University of Missouri-Kansas City’s Small Business & Technology Development Center regularly offers trainings to inspire and engage entrepreneurs and start-ups in Missouri and Kansas. Courses take place at ELEVATIONLAB at Missouri SBDC. part of a network providing education and mentoring across the U.S. through the Small Business Administration.


  • The NC IDEA MINDSET program has the ambitious goal of educating 100,000 North Carolinians in the Ice House model. It’s part of the NC IDEA Foundation’s work of fostering economic development, supporting the state’s entrepreneurial ecosystem and helping people achieve their entrepreneurial potential. 


  • A new network of Ice House Entrepreneurs focused on helping solve environmental, social, and corporate governance problems (like climate change and clean water) kicks off in 2021. The network is hosted on a first-of-its-kind technology innovation platform from the company GOProdigii.


The world will continue to change in ways that require us all to think like entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurial activities will be essential for creating vibrant, equitable and sustainable communities. 

Ice House programs will be available for decades to come. It will ensure that people of all ages and walks of life learn to empower themselves by creating value for others.