Ice House Erie

A mindset is a deeply ingrained set of beliefs
and assumptions that influence our decisions and our behavior.

As a facilitator for women in prison, I have had the pleasure to experience transformation in the lives of the women who participated in the Ice House training. From the very first class the participants were engaged and sitting on the edge of their seats… many exclaimed, “I didn’t know I could do that! I thought only rich or privileged people could start a business.” They were referring to the videos of entrepreneurs who had similar backgrounds who were doing well.
Kim Burney
Entrepreneur  – Attraction Center Publishing

The people we meet in the Ice House curriculum speak truths that resonate within us and in our community…participants are motivated to identify problems and test new ideas that can catalyze individual and community empowerment.

Colin Hurley
Director of Community Engagement Mercyhurst University

I thought about not coming to the class, since I start a new job on Monday. I’m so glad that I chose to come anyhow because now, every day at work, I will be thinking about how I can add more value to the company while I’m at work.

 Former dislocated GE worker

Gary’s presentation was beyond inspiring in terms of understanding what is possible for individuals, organizations, and even whole communities to re-invent themselves when the old ways aren’t working any more.

The world is changing rapidly and continually.  We all need to embrace the mindset that we can be the authors of our own futures rather than the victims of circumstance.

Bill Jackson
President – United Way

The Ice House Keynote summed up in simple, eloquent terms the ease with which people can think and act entrepreneurially in any profession or position. People walked out of that room wondering why we didn’t have new businesses starting in every single available space. It was so obvious afterward: you just do it.

Sean Fedorko

CoFounder – Radius CoWork

I thought it was thought provoking.  I believe many of us know there are issues but do not know what to do about it.  I would love to see the program in high and middle schools in order to graduate young people with the ideas and understanding to change the mindset.

Pat Kennedy, Public Defender


In Erie County Government, the Ice House program is becoming a vehicle for positive change:

For the Participants,  the Ice House program gives permission, encouragement and tools for employees to be fully engaged in their work and to understand how they can make a difference every day at the workplace and in their personal lives.

For the Management staff, the Ice House program will be the catalyst for empowering employees to look at problems as opportunities. In addition, this program will create an environment  that fully engages employees in their work and enables employees to understand how their contributions impact the mission of their department and our community.

For the Administration, the Ice House program provides a vehicle to change a deeply ingrained culture of the status quo to a positively evolving environment by looking for ways to improve processes and break down boundaries across departments. This program will equip our employees to embrace future challenges and turn them into opportunities to make a difference throughout our organization.

Sabrina K. Fischer, MA
Director of Human Resources
County of Erie


Emerging research defines entrepreneurship as the discovery and pursuit of new opportunities. In this definition, the keywords are discovery and opportunity. Creating our collective entrepreneurial mindset is key to creating a vibrant culture. And what is an entrepreneurial mindset? Every person in the community isn’t going to be starting a business, are we? The quick answer is no. An entrepreneurial mindset is a tool that empowers the lives of individuals of all ages, walks of life, and professions. It is a tool that teaches us that we are not casualties of our current circumstances. We are empowered to see challenges as opportunities and to understand that we, alone, are responsible for becoming valuable to the world around us. The Ice House program teaches a method that allows participants to understand the full life cycle of identifying, analyzing, and pursuing new opportunities. Most recognize intuitively that as a community, Erie needs to pursue new opportunities. We encourage and support entrepreneurs who are creating new businesses. We encourage government to become more innovative in service delivery that both utilize resources more efficiently and have more transformational impact. We are working to provide our workforce with the skills they need to win jobs in the global economy that increasingly rely on critical and creative thinking and problem solving.

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The Ice House Leadership Program
provides a rich set of outcomes


Identifying, communicating, and pursuing new opportunities is a core skill for the 21st century workforce.



Acquire new knowledge, identify helpful resources, and validate new opportunities.


Identify and interact with local leaders who reinforce key concepts, present guest lectures, and provide critical guidance.



Identify problem-solving opportunities in their community and industries of interest.

Mindset – Ice House Entrepreneurship Program

Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation partner, the Entrepreneurial Learning Initiative, has created a revolutionary new program to teach individuals how to achieve success using an entrepreneurial mindset regardless of their chosen path.

 Gary Schoeniger Redefines Entrepreneurship

Founder and CEO of the Entrepreneurial Learning Initiative Gary Schoeniger speaks to redefining entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurship is much more than starting a business. It can empower ordinary people to do extraordinary things. An entrepreneurial mindset, recognizing and pursuing new opportunities, is vital for the Erie community to grow and prosper.

Ice House Community

This video talks about how the Ice House program is changing communities across our country.

Our Community Partners