At IFA’s 54th Annual Convention, more than 150 franchise industry leaders came together to volunteer at the third annual Franchising Gives Back service project. On Friday afternoon, Franchising Gives Back participants traveled to the Einstein Charter School in New Orleans’ Ninth Ward where they built new planter boxes for the garden, new picnic tables and benches, painted exterior spaces, worked to clear a vacant lot, re-striped and repainted the playground blacktop and promised a donation of $4,500.
IFA’s Chairman of the Board and Managing Director of Roark Capital, Steve Romaniello, was a driving force behind the creation of Franchising Gives Back, along with Roark colleague Geoff Hill. “We tout franchising’s impact through advocacy, but the bigger impact franchising has is through our franchisors and franchisees working every day in their local communities,” said Romaniello. Geoff Hill expressed “This school is about giving opportunities, just like franchising, which is why bringing the two together is important.”
IFA was brought together with Einstein Charter School by Hands On New Orleans, which works to give volunteers a chance to help the Gulf Coast recover. Hands On Executive Director Chris Cameron said “It is absolutely tremendous that IFA and franchising are helping Hands On and the school. So many years after the storm it is easy for people to think that needs are being met, but they’re not. Eastern New Orleans is forgotten.”
IFA members painted while the sounds of the Einstein band class playing “Do You Know What it Means to Miss New Orleans” floated over the blacktop. A teacher walking through the playground was moved to say “This is wonderful. Thank you all. Thank you for making our school nice.”
Volunteers expressed their satisfaction in participating. Mary Beth Brody of Faegre Baker Daniels said “IFA is a community and Franchising Gives Back lets us connect with that community and serve another that desperately needs it.” Fishman Public Relations CEO, Brad Fishman said “Franchising has been good to many of us. It is a fun day to give back and spend time with friends helping people”.
“It is obvious to us how franchising helps, but it is invigorating to go into communities where the Convention is and help in a different way” said Susan Bishop, Executive Vice President of Rainbow Station “There is also no better way to get to know each other than getting dirty together.”
In 2006 Einstein Charter School took over a failing elementary school. Since that time, Einstein has been making continuous gains in student achievement and has been recognized by Louisiana as a “Top Gains School” for two consecutive years. In 2013, for the first time, the school saw 100% of its 8th graders pass state assessment tests. Einstein Charter’s CEO Shawn Toranto said “Einstein is deeply appreciative of franchising’s work to improve life here. This is truly awesome. When our kids grow up they will be volunteers just like these wonderful people. Giving back is a civic responsibility.”