Lightbridge Academy Experiences Impressive Momentum in Ohio; Adding 20 More Centers Across the State

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The brand will provide a much-needed level of early education and child care excellence to working parents and families in cities like Columbus, Dayton and Cincinnati.

Over the last two decades, early education and child care franchise Lightbridge Academy® has expanded far beyond its home state of New Jersey, establishing a strong presence in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions. As the brand continues its impressive growth this year, Lightbridge Academy has partnered with passionate, qualified entrepreneurs to help bring the brand to several new markets in Ohio, for example. Now, the Lightbridge team is keeping that momentum strong and anticipates adding over 20 territories across various target markets in The Buckeye State.

"We are pushing full steam ahead with our franchise development plans and bringing our Circle of Care to new states like Ohio,” said CEO of Lightbridge Academy Gigi Schweikert. “We're looking forward to entering more communities and making a difference for families in new markets across the East Coast and South."

This past year alone, the Lightbridge Franchise Company signed agreements for five centers in Cincinnati, three in Columbus and one in Dayton.

Allison and Ben Kraft are the husband-and-wife duo behind this year’s three-unit signing in Columbus. Allison has been a special education teacher for 12 years, and Ben is a long-time chiropractor. As working parents of three daughters at home, The Krafts understood how hard it could be to find the right child care fit. After seeing a need for a child care service in Columbus that focuses not only on education but all areas of development, the two decided to look into opening a center of their own and signed a three-unit deal earlier this year.

“When a Lightbridge Academy goes into a community, it makes it better,” said Ben Kraft. “Allison and I lost our son five years ago when he was six years old — our family means everything to us, and we love the idea of owning a business that nurtures and develops young children and supports the community. We have run a non-profit for the past five years helping families that have lost a child. We pay for counseling for the families, help with funeral costs and emergency expenses, and stay in touch with the families to help them through their grief. Owning a child care center feels like the right move for us to be a part of the community and be part of a positive experience in the kids’ lives.”

Maulik (Max) Patel and Naimish (Nick) Patel are the two multi-unit owners behind the recent three-unit signing in Cincinnati. The long-time friends who met in college are both established entrepreneurs and business owners with a portfolio that includes franchise and independent retail and restaurant locations.

“We loved the team, the business model and the way they operate,” said Nick Patel. “The brand itself is great, and their numbers and growth really tell their story of success. We wanted to earn money while also providing a high-quality early education service in a clean, nurturing, happy environment where the children can thrive educationally, developmentally and in life. Our history is in hospitality and retail, but with Lightbridge Academy, we knew we could be more involved with our community.”

Jonathan and Portia Vincent are the franchisees planning to open a center in Dayton next year. Beyond Ohio, the Lightbridge Academy team is eager to partner with passionate and qualified franchisees in target markets across Florida, Maryland, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and Washington, D.C.

To help support growth in new states like Ohio, the Lightbridge Academy team is continuing to build out the systems, processes and platforms that will position individual franchisees for success. For example, the brand recently rolled out a new “land banking” strategy, in which the Lightbridge team proactively finds and secures ideal real estate prior to a franchisee signing in that market. This new strategy is another way the Lightbridge team is working to significantly shorten the time to market and make it much faster for franchisees to get operational.

“We couldn’t be more excited to bring Lightbridge Academy’s tradition of educational child care excellence as The Solution for Working Parents® to communities across the wonderful state of Ohio,” said Schweikert. “By placing equal importance on the needs of children, their families, staff, and center owners, the entire community benefits. As the company continues to grow in new markets, we are looking forward to supporting even more children and families and making a real difference with the partnership of engaged and passionate franchisees.”

For more information on single or multi-unit franchising opportunities with Lightbridge Academy, visit

About Lightbridge Academy:
Established in 1997, the company was founded as a family business based on core values and a Circle of Care philosophy that places equal importance on the needs of children, their families, teachers, center owners and the community. Now celebrating its 25th anniversary, Lightbridge Academy provides quality early education and child care programs to children aged six weeks through kindergarten. The company currently has over 140 child care centers either open or in development throughout Florida, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia. In response to COVID-19, Lightbridge Academy launched the Lightbridge Promise as the Gold Standard for health & safety in the child care industry. In 2020, the company was featured on the Inc. 5000 ranking, Franchise Times Top 200+ awards, and on Newsweek’s 2021 list of America’s Best Customer Service. For the 2nd year in a row, Lightbridge Academy was on the Inc. 5000 list of fastest growing private companies. In 2023, Lightbridge Academy was featured for the 9th year on Entrepreneur Magazine's Franchise 500.

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Lauren Turner
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