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Why Franchisees Are Reinvesting in Lightbridge Academy®

The early education and child care franchise is experiencing enormous demand from investors, not only joining but continuing to reinvest in new units. We spoke to three North Carolina franchisees to learn why.

By 1851 Staff1851 Staff Contributions
SPONSOREDUpdated 11:11AM 04/18/22

Lightbridge Academy, the thriving early education and child care center with a footprint of over 120 centers open, under construction or in development, has remained an innovator in childcare since its founding in 1997. Now, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to disrupt daycare centers across the U.S., Lightbridge is continuing to innovate by giving working parents new, flexible and effective learning opportunities for their children. And investors are taking notice. Not only are more prospective franchisees signing on in untapped markets, but existing franchisees are expanding with the brand, opening up multiple units and servicing more families in prime markets across the Mid-Atlantic and Southeast.

"Throughout the pandemic, childcare has been recognized as critical to the economy. Existing franchisees have responded to the heightened child care demands and have sought to meet the needs of working parents in their communities,” said Lightbridge Academy 's CEO Gigi Schweikert. “As a result more and more of our existing owners are expanding their reach to become multi-unit investors, we are looking forward to making a difference in new markets and having an impact on new families.” 

To learn more about why Lightbridge franchisees are reinvesting with the brand, we spoke to three owners who have done just that.

The Grovensteins: Apex and Holly Springs, North Carolina

Becky Grovenstein and her husband Brian opened the first North Carolina Lightbridge Academy in Holly Springs in 2020 before opening their second location in Apex in 2021. Now, the Grovensteins are looking at adding even more locations to the greater Raleigh area.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has made all of us refocus and reflect on what is important and what we do best at Lightbridge Academy,” said Becky Grovenstein. “Even before COVID-19, safety was such a key part of the Lightbridge Academy brand. But now more than ever, health and safety are top priorities for students and teachers, and that is why the brand rolled out the Lightbridge Promise®.” 

According to Grovenstein, The Lightbridge Promise is the Gold Standard for health and safety in the child care industry. To live up to that standard, all Lightbridge Academy centers made a major investment in an advanced air purification and filtration system that continuously purifies the air and sterilizes all visible surfaces throughout the entire center.

Along with enhanced procedures and protocols and requirements, the brand has committed to creating a secure learning environment. Lightbridge Academy parents also find peace of mind with facial recognition entry systems and being able to stay connected through the ParentView® Internet Monitoring System, which provides them with access to their child’s classroom. These are just a few of the reasons why the Grovensteins see the value in continuing to meet the demand for quality child care in the growing Raleigh area by opening new centers.

“Brian and I are working parents, so we understand what it’s like to leave your child in the care of someone else,” Becky said. “The most important thing in child care is building trusting relationships between administrators, teachers, parents and children. It isn’t always easy but it is necessary especially when facing challenges.”

JP Alvarado: Durham, North Carolina and Hoboken, New Jersey

J.P. Alvarado is more than a multi-unit franchisee with Lightbridge Academy; he’s also a full-time banker, husband and father of four. Following his family’s passion for aiding in the development of the next generation, Alvarado and his wife, have signed to open a second location with the franchise, which will be the brand’s first-ever location in the Durham area. The new location, which will meet a growing demand in the market for quality early childhood education, is set to open within the next two years.

Alvarado, who earned an MBA from Fordham, says he has always been interested in finance and decided to make that his area of expertise. His wife, Ann, has a masters degree in English and was a teacher before staying home with their children. Despite their different focuses, the couple is both passionate about education and found common ground in Lightbridge Academy.  

When J.P.’s firm closed down three years ago and he was laid off, he “started thinking about the future and exploring other business opportunities,” he said. After talking with several people and researching, in particular Lightbridge Academy and the services it offers a community, Alvarado decided to invest in his first location in Hoboken.  

“Since I had no experience in ever starting or owning a business, it felt easier to do it with the support of an established franchise brand,” said Alvarado. “Just from that perspective, I valued having someone hold my hand and walk me through the process. I wasn’t trying to reinvent the wheel.”

Alvarado also noted the potential for growth in investing in the child care industry. 

“It became more of a function of thinking about the future risks and concerns,” said Alvarado. “Child care isn’t a thing that’s going to be replaced by technology; there are fads in the restaurant industries that change. Taking care of children — there’s always going to be a need.”  

Alvarado says he chose Durham for the new location because it’s a booming area “with a lot going on and major infrastructure,” with the additional perk of it being a short flight from New Jersey. 

Including Alvarado’s Durham location, the company plans to add five Lightbridge locations in the Raleigh-Durham area over the next four years, which will create roughly 150 employment opportunities.

The Friedmans: Charlotte, North Carolina

Alison Friedman was so inspired by the work her step-daughter, Dana, accomplished with early education and child care centers that it motivated her to go into franchise ownership in the same industry with her husband, Joe, in Charlotte, North Carolina.

“Dana worked in child care, and she worked her way up from teaching to being the director,” explained Alison. “She turned around a number of centers and had opportunities to even launch a couple of centers — one was a Lightbridge Academy in New Jersey.”  

The duo was impressed with Lightbridge Academy and saw a need to bring The Solution for Working Parents® to their North Carolina area. Soon after they signed for their second Lightbridge Academy location with each planned to open in the Greater Charlotte area.

The Friedmans are passionate about supporting their community and local families, and committed to serving the area by offering mission-driven, innovative child care services and look forward to growing with the brand. 

“Lightbridge Academy’s values align with ours and the brand offers tremendous support every step of the way,” said Alison. “We moved to Charlotte five years ago, and the growth here is just incredible. There's a strong need here for child care centers, and all of the solutions they provide for working parents.” 

As franchisees experience increased demand and climbing revenue, existing franchisees are choosing to purchase prime territories while they are still available. Lightbridge Academy is currently looking to partner with franchisees in North Carolina, Texas, Florida, Ohio, Virginia, Maryland, New York and Pennsylvania.

The startup costs for a Lightbridge Academy® franchise range from $549,228 to $737,635. The franchise fee is $40,000. To learn more about franchising with Lightbridge Academy®, visit

*This brand is a paid partner of 1851 Franchise. For more information on paid partnerships please click here.