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Business Strategist Leaves Corporate America to Open Sylvan Learning Center

One entrepreneur explains why he felt it was time to give back to his community through education.

By Nick Powills1851 Franchise Publisher
SPONSORED 11:11AM 05/01/18

Rodney Barnes spent most of his career as a business strategist for Fortune 500 companies such as GE and Walmart. But despite his success in traditional, corporate America, he knew his true calling was to help educate children and give back to his community. That’s why he recently decided to translate his business strategy experience into a new career as the owner and operator of his own Sylvan Learning franchise.

Barnes’ decision to franchise all started when he relocated to Houston. Barnes knew he wanted to make a change in his career, and he and his wife Alandrus felt very passionate about giving back to the local students and investing in their future by providing them with a variety of education programs for all ages and academic levels.

“It all starts with investing in our youth,” said Barnes. “It’s crucial that we instill confidence in students and help them develop strong study skills at a young age so they grow and prosper into young adults who are college and career ready.”

Barnes and his wife began to explore different business ventures after he left the corporate world, and they both knew they wanted to form a charity of their own. After long consideration, Barnes’ wife came up with the company name Student Empowerment Centers LLC. However, she tragically passed away just a few weeks later. To carry on her legacy and continue on the path they had forged together, Barnes was further inspired to carry out their mission of giving back to local youth through education.

Because his son attended an education center growing up, and he saw the impact it had on his son’s grades and overall confidence, Barnes completed extensive research on educational franchise opportunities.

“I became more impressed the more I learned about Sylvan. It fit the vision I was looking for by offering personalized tutoring, academic coaching and test prep for students who are struggling.”

Barnes was drawn to Sylvan’s established and strong business model, and he says he found value with the fact that the brand was open-minded about what he wanted to accomplish at his center.

“Sylvan had the business model I needed to guarantee success, and it quickly became clear that the best approach for me would be to buy an existing Sylvan center,” Barnes said. “I wanted to take over ownership of a location that was well run and in a strong financial state. The Sylvan team made my decision seamless and I thank them for making my and my late wife’s vision become a reality.”

Since taking over ownership of the Pearland location two months ago, Barnes’ business program enrollments have nearly doubled. Barnes and his team are passionate about incorporating Student Empowerment Centers LLC into Sylvan Learning to ensure underprivileged youth are also able to find the proper tutoring and educational resources that aren’t always available to them. He’s currently exploring opportunities to partner with Houston area companies and organizations to grant money to fund less fortunate students.

Barnes also sees his investment in Sylvan extending beyond this first location.

“I definitely could see myself opening up future Sylvan locations down the line. It’s an investment, but one of the best investments I’ve made in my life. This is my true calling,” Barnes said. “Right now, I’m excited to focus on my new location in Pearland and partnering with different organizations in the community to give back.” 

Sylvan Learning has more than 750 points of presence nationwide, with start-up costs ranging from $70,980 to $159,890.

To view open territories and learn more about franchising opportunities with Sylvan Learning, please visit


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