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Lightbridge Academy® Celebrates Glen Allen Signing, Looks Toward Further Expansion in Virginia

The leading early education and child care franchise has identified markets surrounding Richmond and Washington D.C. as areas primed for growth.

By Luca Piacentini1851 Franchise Managing Editor
SPONSOREDUpdated 11:11AM 10/14/21

After filling out its home state of New Jersey with additional development in neighboring states Pennsylvania and New York, Lightbridge Academy®, the early education and child care franchise with more than 120 centers open or under development across the United States, is planning to further its Mid-Atlantic growth by focusing on new target markets throughout the state of Virginia. 

In 2018, Lightbridge Academy entered the state for the first time with a location in Virginia Beach. Now, the brand is celebrating the signing of Shawn Dhingra, a franchisee who will open a Lightbridge Academy in Glen Allen early next year. Dhingra grew up in the suburbs of Richmond and after starting a family of his own, he realized Northern Virginia was in need of a higher-quality child care solution.

“I was born and raised here in the suburbs of Richmond and even stayed here for college,”  said Dhingra. “My wife Mandy and I relocated to Atlanta for a bit, but we moved back in 2016 to be closer to family. We have two kids — an 11 year old daughter and a 5 year old son — and upon moving back to Virginia, we quickly realized there were very few quality child care options available in the area.” 

Once Dhingra decided to invest in a child care center himself, he spoke to friends and family who franchised businesses in a variety of industries to try and grasp the pros and cons of franchising. “After speaking with so many who thought so highly of franchising, we thought it could be a good segway to owning a business without building one from scratch,” he said. “We were excited about the franchise model and the proven system and expertise offered by the home office team — franchising seemed like it would give us more flexibility in our career.” 

When Dhingra began looking for concepts, he says his primary requirement was to find a brand that prioritized community involvement. After discovering Lightbridge Academy, Dhingra and his wife immediately recognized the brand’s unparalleled mission to not only bring quality early education to children, but also support the community at large. 

“Mandy and I had high expectations for the centers that took care of our children, but they always seemed to fall short,” said Dhingra. “Once we decided we wanted to open a child care franchise, we began researching different options, and there was just this innate connection with Lightbridge Academy. After our initial call, the company sent over a packet that showcased the robust curriculum, and we felt that Lightbridge Academy could be an excellent part of the community and somewhere where parents felt more than comfortable sending their children.”

Dhingra points to several differentiators that made Lightbridge Academy stand out, including its core values and Circle of Care philosophy, which places equal importance on the needs of children, their families, teachers, center owners and the community. He was also impressed with the brand’s robust suite of parent-facing technology, which includes the ParentView® Internet Monitoring System and the eCommunication mobile app, both designed to give working parents peace of mind by keeping them connected to their children virtually throughout the day.

Looking ahead, Dhingra is excited to continue growing Lightbridge Academy throughout Virginia and beyond. “As Lightbridge Academy sits mostly north of us, we knew this could be a good opportunity to bring this type of franchise model to the Richmond area,” he said. “We are looking forward to establishing Lightbridge Academy in the Glen Allen market and proving to the families in our community how excellent child care can be.”

Now, as Lightbridge Academy expands its presence in Virginia, the team has identified several markets in the state that offer a similar demographic to territories in the Mid-Atlantic, where the brand has already seen great success. Specifically, the team is targeting territories surrounding Richmond and the Washington D.C. border of Virginia.

“We’re targeting metropolitan areas in the state of Virginia with families that lead similar lifestyles to those we service at existing locations in markets throughout the country,” said Lightbridge Academy CEO Gigi Schweikert. “Our Virginia Beach location has wait lists and is very successful. We look forward to expanding our Circle of Care into Northern Virginia with this new Glen Allen franchise center and are seeking other qualified prospects who are eager to join our proven child care brand in offering high quality educational child care solutions. 

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