The International Franchise Association's (IFA) Franchise Education & Research Foundation announced Tuesday the winners of its second annual Franchising Gives Back Awards, who were honored at an awards dinner Monday 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—Edible Arrangements—Edible Arrangements’ Edible Cares program provides emergency funds to employees in times of crisis, and supports nonprofit organizations at both at the corporate level and the franchisee level. Edible Arrangements also makes annual donations to the National Breast Cancer Foundation and the Breast Cancer Society Canada during Breast Cancer Awareness Month. In addition, in 2013, Edible Arrangements founder and CEO Tariq Farid established the Tariq Farid Foundation to support causes both at home and around the world. The Foundation’s contributions total almost $1 million annually, and have benefited dozens of programs, including hospitals, schools, homeless shelters, domestic violence shelters, food pantries, and organizations addressing childhood cancer and assisting refugees.

Enduring Impact Award—Auntie Anne’s—Since establishing a partnership with Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation (ALSF) in September 2011, Auntie Anne’s has raised more than $2.4 million for the organization through in-store fundraising campaigns, coin canister donations, local event collaboration, and the company’s annual C.A.R.E.S. Golf Tournament. Each summer, guests can visit Auntie Anne’s to purchase a pretzel ribbon paper icon for $1 and show their support in the fight to end childhood cancer. In appreciation of the donation, guests receive a coupon for $1 off their next purchase. Auntie Anne’s donations have directly funded more than 48,000 hours of childhood cancer research and have helped ALSF fund more than 550 cutting-edge childhood cancer research projects, create a travel program to help support families of children receiving treatment, and develop resources to help people everywhere affected by childhood cancer.

Support Our Veterans Award—Ampex Brands—For the last four years, Ampex Brands (a franchisee group that owns several Long John Silver's and KFC restaurants) has sponsored the Snowball Express Children of Fallen Military Annual Gathering, bringing together children from across the nation who have lost a military parent since 9/11, with the goal of connecting children and widows to others who are experiencing the identical tragedy in their life. It is now the largest gathering of children and families of fallen military in the world. Families who attend realize that they are not alone, and because of the tremendous demonstration of community support, they understand that their sacrifices are not forgotten and that the supreme sacrifice of their hero will never be forgotten.

Innovation and Impact Award—Benetrends Financial—The Little Rock Foundation for the Blind (TLRF) was established in 1997 after Rocco Fiorentino, Jr. was born four months premature and blind. After months of researching, there seemed to be very little information for parents who have blind children and a real lack of resources to support parents and their families. The Fiorentinos founded The Little Rock Foundation (TLRF), a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to improving the lives of children who are blind or visually impaired. For the past 15 years, The Little Rock Foundation has hosted an annual summer camp for visually impaired and blind children in honor of their son. The camp is offered for free to all visually impaired and blind children, ages 7 to 16, who are affiliated with a state agency for the visually impaired or blind. To date, over 600 campers have enjoyed the camp’s offerings at Camp Little Rock.

The Newcomer Award—AAMCO Transmissions, Inc.—Arizona-based AAMCO franchise owner Gary Denton is the founder of the Wheels of Freedom Project, a not-for-profit entity dedicated to providing electric wheelchairs to disabled veterans in the community and enhancing their quality of life. The Wheels of Freedom Project began when Denton found a powered wheelchair in disrepair at the existing AAMCO service center he had purchased in July 2015. Gary Denton’s first refurbished chair was presented to Robert Martens, a disabled veteran who is in need of a kidney and pancreas transplant and could only walk a few feet at a time. Denton was so moved by the experience that he chose to create the Wheels of Freedom Project the very next day, with an effort to create awareness of the needs and abilities of Veterans with physical disabilities and to promote the joy of giving.

Eleven additional Silver Award Winners were recognized. They are:

Spirit of Franchising Award—Citrin Cooperman (Citrin Cooperman Cares), Express Employment Professionals (Brand it Blue Day), Dunkin’ Brands franchisee Ron Portnoy (Dunkin Donuts & Baskin-Robbins Community Foundation)

Enduring Impact Award—Rainbow International of Columbia franchisee Reed Mattingly (Rainbow International Charity Golf Classic), Arby’s (Share Our Strength/No Kid Hungry)

Support Our Veterans Award—Marriott International (Wounded Warriors Family Support), Sports Clips (Ageless Aviation Dreams Foundation)

Innovation and Impact Award—Newk’s Eatery (Ovarian Cancer Research Fund Alliance via Newk’s Cares), Painting with a Twist (Painting with a Purpose)

The Newcomer Award—Wienerschnitzel (Skate For Change—Hot Dogs for Change), Pinot’s Palette (St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital)

“Our Franchising Gives Back Award winners are such great examples of caring and community leadership and we are delighted to recognize them and the charities that they support,” says Doc Cohen, CFE, foundation chairman. “Franchising Gives Back honors them and the thousands of wonderful, individual acts of charity by franchise owners, franchisors, and suppliers throughout the year.”

Established by a generous donation from Roark Capital Group, Franchising Gives Back salutes the best, most innovative community leaders and charitable programs nationwide. 

“The economic footprint of franchising is very big, but in many ways, the social footprint of franchise businesses in thousands of communities, touching our neighbors and customers in very personal ways, is even bigger,” adds Steve Romaniello, CFE, managing director, Roark Capital Group. “We are honored to play a small part in supporting Franchising Gives Back.”

As part of the ongoing initiative for Franchising Gives Back, the IFA Franchise Education & Research Foundation is developing a national registry of the franchising industry’s charitable contributions. Members of the IFA can register and create a profile for their organization online, where they can submit details about their charitable activities—including hours volunteered and money donated—as well as upcoming events, news and blog posts.

Franchising Gives Back depends on donations to the IFA Franchise Education & Research Foundation. For more information on contributing to Franchising Gives Back through its partner program including sponsorship opportunities for the Annual Awards event.

Charitable Giving, News, Auntie Anne's, Edible Arrangements, Newk's Eatery, Wienerschnitzel