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The International Franchise Association's (IFA) Franchise Education & Research Foundation announced today the winners of its third annual Franchising Gives Back Awards, who were honored at an awards dinner on September 11 in Washington, D.C.
The Franchise Education & Research Foundation recognized five Gold Winners at the Franchising Gives Back Celebration & Awards Dinner, including:
Spirit of Franchising Award: McDonald's
In 2015, McDonald's launched Archways to Opportunity, an education program that allows U.S.-based restaurant employees the chance to earn a high school diploma, receive tuition assistance, access free education advising services, and learn English as a second language. Nearly 17,000 people have enrolled over the last two years and McDonald's has awarded more than $14 million in tuition assistance. Additionally, there have been almost 200 graduates from the Career Online High School and 5,200 graduates of the English Under the Arches program.
Enduring Impact Award: The Wendy's Company
In 2004, the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption (DTFA) launched Wendy's Wonderful Kids, which awards grants to public and private adoption agencies to hire adoption professionals that create recruitment programs to help families for children who have been waiting in foster care the longest. Over the past five years, Wendy's has raised over $77.6 million for the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption and Wendy's Wonderful Kids, helping to finalize over 6,300 adoptions. Wendy's hopes to raise an additional $12 million this year for the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption.
Support Our Veterans Award: Dream Vacations
Since 2012, Dream Vacations (a CruiseOne company) has awarded 25 military veterans free franchises through its "Operation Vetrepreneur: Become Your Own General" annual contest. The goal is to ease veterans' transition back into civilian life with a career opportunity that combines their military skills and travel experiences. To date, Dream Vacations' in-kind donation exceeds $317,000 and, moreover, the contest has evolved into a broader veterans program for Dream Vacations, allowing the franchisor to increase the number of veterans in their system by 15 percent.
Innovation and Impact Award: Massage Heights
Since establishing the Massage Heights Family Fund in 2013 following the experience of co-founder and president Shane Evans had on "Undercover Boss," Massage Heights has raised nearly $53,000 to help provide financial relief and assistance to franchisees' employees and their families in times of crisis, need, or hardship. Over the last four years, the Massage Heights Family Fund has awarded 16 grants totaling $15,500 to assist with medical co-pays for chemotherapy; to pay for food, rent, and living expenses after an employee's husband was injured in an automobile accident; to help pay for temporary housing after an employee lost their home in a fire; and more.
The Newcomer Award: Planet Fitness
Last year, Planet Fitness launched a national cause initiative called The Judgement Free Generation, a pro-kindness, anti-bullying movement, with a mission to encourage a generation to grow up contributing to a more judgement free planet. Planet Fitness partnered with Boys & Girls Clubs of America and STOMP Out Bullying, raising over $1.5 million in its inaugural year by donating the $10 new-member enrollment fee during the weeklong national cause-marketing program, in addition to contributing over $100,000 in in-kind donations and more than 1,300 volunteer hours.
Thirteen additional Silver Award Winners were recognized. They are:
Spirit of Franchising Award—Sonny's BBQ (Random Acts of BBQ), Home Instead Senior Care (Hilarity for Charity), and Dream Dinners (Living the Dream Foundation / Friends & Family Community Connection)
Enduring Impact Award—Tropical Smoothie Cafe (Camp Sunshine), McAlister's Deli of Louisville (Crusade for Children), and Global Franchise Group (A Bite for the Fight for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society)
Support Our Veterans Award—Sport Clips (Veterans of Foreign Wars Sports Clips "Help A Hero" Scholarship Program) and Anytime Fitness (Operation HeartFirst)
Innovation and Impact Award—Dunkin' Donuts (Box 4 Special Services Canteen), Abrakadoodle (Abrakadoodle Arts for All), and Naples Donuts LLC Safe and Healthy Kids Coalition of Collier County)
The Newcomer Award—Chicken Salad Chick (Music and Miracles) and The Cleaning Authority (The Cleaning Authority CARES)
"It's truly uplifting to learn about all of the ongoing efforts that many franchise owners, franchisors, and suppliers lead throughout the year," says Mike Isakson, CFE, Foundation Chairman. "Franchising Gives Back allows our foundation the opportunity to recognize and honor the significant charitable work that impacts communities across the country and we are thrilled to continue this annual celebration."
Established by a generous donation from Roark Capital Group, Franchising Gives Back salutes the best, most innovative community leaders and charitable programs nationwide.
"Franchising Gives Back is one of my favorite events of the year as it shines a spotlight on the contributions franchise businesses make every day in the places where we work and live," says Steve Romaniello, CFE, managing director, Roark Capital Group. "We're thrilled to announce that collectively this year's winners donated over $100 million, countless volunteer hours, and in-kind products and services to give back to charities and communities across the country."
As part of the ongoing initiative for Franchising Gives Back, the IFA Franchise Education & Research Foundation has developed a national registry of the franchising industry's charitable contributions. Members of the IFA can register and create a profile for their organization by visiting franchisinggivesback.org, where they can submit details about their charitable activities — including hours volunteered and money donated — as well as upcoming events, news, and blog posts.