Lightbridge Franchise Company Continues Momentum; Gears Up for Lightbridge Academy’s 25th Anniversary & Celebrates the Lightbridge Foundation Hitting $1M Raised

Lightbridge Academy®, one of the nation's leading providers of early education and child care, has been experiencing major franchise growth over the past few years. Now, heading towards the end of 2022, the East Coast-based franchise is expanding into new markets and providing entrepreneurs the opportunity to introduce an essential service to their local community. So far this year, Lightbridge Franchise Company has celebrated 11 signings for a total of 20 locations, entering new markets like Texas and Ohio while continuing to grow in existing Mid-Atlantic markets like North Carolina and Florida. The brand plans to open the first Charlotte and the second Nashville area locations by year's end.

"Over the years, the focus has been on concentrically building out from New Jersey to Pennsylvania and New York, and this strategy has enabled us to ensure we are operationally strong," said Senior Vice President of Franchise Sales Jim DiRugeris. "We wanted to build close to home and put the infrastructure in place to ensure that we could provide the necessary support to our existing owners before expanding further from the home base. Now we're more than ready for that expansion, and so are our franchisees."

Naimishkumar (Nick) Patel is one of the franchise owners behind the recent signing in Cincinnati. After discovering the concept, Patel says he was thrilled by the idea of bringing the Lightbridge Academy name to the state of Ohio for the first time and signing on for multiple units.

"We loved the team, the business model and the way they operate," Patel said. "The brand itself is great, and their numbers and growth tell their story of success. We wanted to earn money while also providing a high-quality early education service in a clean, nurturing, happy environment where the children can thrive educationally, developmentally and in life. Our history is in hospitality and retail, but with Lightbridge Academy, we knew we could be more involved with our community."

In addition to multi-unit signings, private equity is also fueling Lightbridge Academy's growth this year. In 2021, Westerly Group and Elmsley Capital bought a majority stake in the fast-growing early education and child care franchise. This year, the firm is continuing to build out the systems, processes and platforms that will help the Lightbridge Academy system grow and position individual franchisees for success.

But it's not just franchise growth the Lightbridge Academy brand is celebrating this quarter. The Lightbridge Foundation®, the 501(c)(3) non-profit organization associated with the early education and child care franchise, officially surpassed $1 million in dollars raised as it continues its mission to support children and working parents in the communities it serves and beyond.

"This is a very exciting time for both the foundation and Lightbridge Academy," said Lightbridge Foundation's Executive Director Audrey Feci. "The company has been growing rapidly over the past year, and as we open more centers, we are able to raise more money for the Lightbridge Foundation. This allows us to expand our support of those in our Circle of Care."

In celebration of Lightbridge Academy's 25th anniversary, CEO Gigi Schweikert wrote The Birthday Book to highlight the importance of celebrating this milestone and what makes each child uniquely special.

"This book recognizes all those in our Circle of Care - past, present and future - that have come together to form an extended family," said Schweikert. "We are a part of the lives of all Lightbridge Academy families and it is an honor to share so many of their important milestones."

Looking ahead to the rest of the year and beyond, the team is focusing on signing agreements for the remainder of its target markets across Texas, Florida, North Carolina, Ohio, Virginia, Washington, D.C., Pennsylvania, Maryland and New York.

"As the three quarters of this year have shown, we are expanding rapidly but responsibly with both new and existing franchisees," said DiRugeris. "Now, with return-to-office headwinds impacting communities all across the country, Lightbridge Academy is well-positioned to continue that growth and further establish ourselves as The Solution for Working Parents®."

About Lightbridge Academy:Established in 1997, the company was founded as a family business based on core values and a Circle of Care philosophy that places equal importance on the needs of children, their families, teachers, center owners and the community. Lightbridge Academy provides quality early education and child care programs to children aged six weeks through kindergarten. The company currently has over 140 child care centers either open or in development throughout Florida, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia. In response to COVID-19, Lightbridge Academy launched The Lightbridge Promise as the Gold Standard for health & safety in the child care industry. In 2020, the company was featured on the Inc. 5000 ranking, Franchise Times Top 200+ awards, and on Newsweek's 2021 list of America's Best Customer Service. In 2022, Lightbridge Academy was featured for the 7th year on Entrepreneur Magazine's Franchise 500 and for the 2nd year on the Inc. 5000 list of fastest-growing private companies.

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