Inspirational Stories of Helping Veterans

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Dream Vacations at the 2017 Franchising Gives Back Celebration & Awards Dinner
Gold Winner, Support Our Veterans Award.

Every day, franchises across the U.S. are giving back to their communities in tremendous ways. They dedicate themselves to creating a lasting impact through community outreach programs and charitable initiatives. These franchisees donate countless hours and money to fulfill community needs.

Some franchise businesses are especially focusing their community efforts on our veterans and fallen soldiers. The International Franchise Association (IFA) Foundation celebrates these contributions and the impact they have through its annual Franchising Give Back Awards.

In 2015, the IFA Foundation hosted the first annual Franchising Gives Back Awards to recognize franchisors, franchisees, and suppliers that are impacting their communities in meaningful ways. This yearlong celebration has evolved as a wonderful way to showcase all that locally owned businesses have to offer to their communities and, most importantly, our veterans. We are excited to share a few of these phenomenal stories.

Supporting Continuing Education

For five years, Sport Clips has been at the forefront of assisting veterans after active duty. Sport Clips is the primary supporter of the VFW’s Sport Clips Help A Hero Scholarship program. This program helps provide scholarships to service members and veterans for post-secondary schools and trade schools. To date, Sport Clips has awarded over 940 scholarships totaling $4.1 million. Additionally, in 2017, Sport Clips founder and CEO Gordon Logan made a $500,000 donation to the IFA’s VetFran program, which since 1991 has been working to foster the entry of veterans into the world of franchising.

Making Dreams Come True

By the end of 2018, Dream Vacations (a CruiseOne company) will have awarded 37 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 donations exceed $469,900 and, moreover, the contest has evolved into a broader veterans program for Dream Vacations. Today, more than 30 percent of its franchise owners are U.S. veterans and military spouses.

Connecting Families Of Fallen Soldiers

For the last six years, Ampex Brands has been connecting children all around the nation who have lost a military parent through its sponsorship of the Snowball Express Children of Fallen Military Annual Gathering. This gathering is a chance to connect children and widows/widowers to others who are experiencing an identical tragedy in their lives. This is a culmination of the largest gathering of children and families of fallen military in the world. This initiative has garnered vast community support for its underlying commitment to keeping the memories of these fallen soldiers and their sacrifices alive and never forgotten.

Stars for Heroes

This year, CKE Restaurants Holdings — which owns Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s — held its eighth annual Stars for Heroes fundraising campaign. Between 2011 and 2017, CKE raised more than $7.5 million by encouraging franchisees to collect donations from customers to support military-centered charities. Funds raised during the 2018 campaign supported national charity partners, Stand Up and Play Foundation, and USA Cares, as well as other regional and local military-focused charities in the communities Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s serve. Franchisees nominated local charities to benefit from up to 50 percent of the funds raised in their stores.

Equipping the Troops

Anytime Fitness is providing a platform for veterans to become entrepreneurs by partnering with Tee it Up for the Troops. This initiative is aimed at helping military veterans open their own gyms while also providing additional employment opportunities to active duty service members. Tee it Up for the Troops chooses a number of honorably discharged veterans and equips each veteran with a $125,000 grant and a $125,000 loan as initial start-up capital to be used for the development of an Anytime Fitness franchise. Their efforts have helped open up over five gyms in the last five years, all owned and operated by military veterans.

How to Get Involved

The IFA Foundation has been compiling a national registry to showcase franchise businesses and their charitable programs nationwide. To date, the registry features profiles for over 460 IFA members and showcases the efforts of more than 313,000 volunteers who have donated more than $245 million and 2.3 million hours to non-profit organizations. Franchisees who are members of the IFA and have made noteworthy contributions to their community are encouraged to submit their efforts and share their stories on the Franchising Gives Back blog.

Steve Romaniello, CFE, is managing director of Roark Capital Group, founding sponsor of Franchising Gives Back.

Save the Date! 4th Annual Franchising Gives Back Celebration & Awards Dinner

Tuesday, Sept. 4, 2018 at 7 p.m.

JW Marriott, Washington, D.C.

For more information on tickets and sponsorships, visit franchisinggivesback.org