Top 10 American Franchises

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How Giving Back Has Grown the Kiddie Academy Footprint


Kiddie Academy ®, a nationally recognized brand of educational child care centers, has launched a community fund to provide its teachers and staff with grants of up to $1,000 in times of personal hardship or natural disaster. It’s just one of the ways the Kiddie Academy system is embracing a purpose-driven philosophy as it expands its footprint to 300 Academies across 34 states and the District of Columbia.



“The Community Fund is a key opportunity to support our Academies’ teachers and staff, who are the foundation of everything we do. It’s character education in action, providing living examples of empathy, generosity and responsibility,” said Maria Dontas, director of corporate social responsibility at the Kiddie Academy Domestic Franchising, LLC (“Kiddie Academy Corporate”).

The Kiddie Academy Community Fund was created to help teachers and staff in the Kiddie Academy system in need of immediate financial assistance following an unforeseen circumstance. The fund relies on support from Kiddie Academy Corporate, as well as individual donations made by franchisees, vendors, employees, and the public. Kiddie Academy Corporate has seeded the fund and covers all its operating expenses.

Donations to the fund are tax deductible, and grants to Kiddie Academy system teachers and staff are tax-free.

“The Community Fund is a testament to our passion and our purpose. It’s just one way we show up for one another, across state lines and classroom walls,” Dontas said.

In fact, employee support is on the rise in the ongoing aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic. Companies like Kiddie Academy Corporate are responding. The franchisor is continuing to find ways to support Academies across the Kiddie Academy system and to provide resources to franchisees so they can better serve their teams.

According to the Federal Reserve’s most recent Report on the Economic Well-Being of U.S. Households, 35% of adults would have a hard time covering an unforeseen expense of $400. With inflation at a 40-year high, everyone is feeling the pinch. When brands like Kiddie Academy step in to support teachers and staff in the franchise system, it can make a meaningful difference.

“The Kiddie Academy Community Fund helped me and my family through my Covid-19 recovery,” said Christine, a teacher at a Kiddie Academy franchise location in Illinois. “The grant helped me with the hospital bills I received during Covid-19. It’s unfortunate that things turned out this way, but I can truly say ‘I beat Covid!’ I am thankful for my life and so appreciative of Kiddie Academy.”


In the past year, enrollment across the Kiddie Academy system has increased 20% to over 38,500 children. More than 8,000 educators in the franchise system are focused on delivering the brand’s Life Essentials® curriculum, which is designed to inspire curiosity and instill character in the children it serves.

Since its inception in 1981, Kiddie Academy has been recognized as a leading brand in educational child care. The company serves families and their children ages 6 weeks to 12 years old, offering full-time care, before-and after-school care and summer camp programs, through the Kiddie Academy system. Kiddie Academy Corporate has received corporate accreditation from the globally recognized Cognia accreditation system, signifying its commitment to quality education and the highest standards in child care.

“Service franchises are on the rise as consumers look to create efficiency in their lives. We’ve seen firsthand how child care is the backbone of our communities,” said Kiddie Academy Corporate President Joshua Frick. “The Kiddie Academy system affords franchisees a way to create a scalable service offering to meet the community’s needs and wants while providing consistency in our programs.”

Furthermore, child care franchising is a recession-resistant model. Child care is a need that every parent has to fulfill, which makes it an industry that rebounds quickly after economic downturns. And owning a franchise in the child care industry doesn’t necessarily mean you have to have a background in early childhood education. The Kiddie Academy system comprises franchisees with backgrounds in everything from technology to engineering to accounting and more.

“We’re seeing more and more franchisees coming from other concepts,” Frick added. “In addition to new prospects, our existing franchisees are doubling down—multi-unit owners now make up 60% of operating Academies. It’s a great validation of our business model.”

The Kiddie Academy brand celebrated 40 years of early childhood education in 2021 with a $40,000 donation to Family Promise, a national nonprofit focused on providing prevention, shelter and stabilization services to communities nationwide. The donation was used to launch a leadership academy offering training to staff at Family Promise affiliates and scholarships focused on helping women achieve career growth in early childhood education.

Because the Kiddie Academy system workforce is predominantly female, (61% of Kiddie Academy Corporate employees and approximately 99% of franchisees’ employees across the 300 franchised locations), Kiddie Academy Corporate seeks to lead by example for other businesses hoping to support working women and parents. To accomplish this, Kiddie Academy Corporate has developed excellent benefits for its employees, including increased parental leave following the birth or adoption of a child, phase-out programs for mothers, phase-back-in plans for parents after family leave, additional and expanded child care tuition support and more flexible working hours.

Purpose-driven isn’t just a catchphrase for the Kiddie Academy system —it’s a passion. Whether it’s supporting staff through the Community Fund and progressive family benefits or giving back to the community locally and nationally through Family Promise, this franchise system is setting an industry precedent. Giving is an inside-out philosophy, and it’s at the heart of everything the Kiddie Academy brand stands for, from its Character Essentials ® character education program taught at Academies to its corporate identity.