Kiddie Academy Educational Child Care closed out 2021 by donating $40,000 to create career opportunities for women in early childhood education.
The money will fund scholarships through the national nonprofit Family Promise and create the Family Promise Leadership Academy, projected to open in 2022.
The Abingdon-based Kiddie Academy, serving children 6 weeks to 12 years, emphasizes learning through play, social emotional growth, STEM education and health and fitness. Its franchises are almost exclusively employed by women—teachers and staff.
“For us, this (donation) was very personal. When we looked to how we can help with the crisis of women leaving the workforce or having to exit the workforce to care for their families during the (COVID-19) crisis, we saw a real opportunity with Family Promise,” says Chief Marketing Officer Nicole Salla.
The history of Kiddie Academy has its origins in women. Executive Vice President Casey Miller’s grandmother was the originator of many of the ideas that are still central to the curriculum today.
“If it weren’t for her, Kiddie Academy wouldn’t be here,” he says.
The partnership with Family Promise began long before the donation because of the organization’s strong community focus, Salla says.
“Our academies are such a core part of our communities that we serve,” she says. “When we set out to look for a national partner, we wanted somebody who was also embedded in our communities.”
Miller says in serving working families with dual-income households, Kiddie Academy aligns itself with the nonprofit’s mission of combatting homelessness and supporting women.
“More than 60% of families served in our affiliate shelters are composed of female heads-of-household,” says Claas Ehlers, chief executive officer of Family Promise, in a news release.
Through the leadership academy, Family Promise staff will be trained in helping women at their affiliate centers maintain stability while fostering careers in early childhood ed. The Kiddie Academy-funded scholarships will help these women earn the appropriate state credentials accepted in classrooms nationwide.
Ehlers says this item falls in line with the nonprofit’s goal of changing the future of 1 million children by 2030 through community-based programs.
“I think that speaking personally as a working parent with four children, one of the critical things that I think working parents need to be successful is a tribe and a village,” Salla says.
Child care is an important part of that community, and by supporting teachers, Kiddie Academy is supporting the families those teachers serve, she adds.
Kiddie Academy also encourages franchise owners to offer increased parental leave, phase-back-in plans after family leave, additional child care tuition support and more flexible working hours.
Domestic franchising for Kiddie Academy is based in Maryland. With 30 new academies expected to open in 2022, the academy projects its network to have more than 300 operating locations in 31 states and Washington, D.C. this year.