The education gap in Chicago is an ever-pressing issue. Sylvan Learning believes new franchisees can really make an impact in this area both as a business and for the students they serve.
After 30 years of being a principal in the Grayslake area, a suburb outside of Chicago, Ken Rose decided he wanted a change of pace in his career while still following his passion for helping kids learn and enjoy school. As a principal, Rose already had a relationship with the current owner of a Sylvan Learning in the area, and after many conversations, he decided to take over the location. While Sylvan was already established in the area and seen as a positive service to the community, Rose took the company to the next level and partnered with the local schools to offer SAT/ACT prep for high school students. He also introduced robotics learning for elementary students and offered more personalized tutoring for students who needed extra help in classes or who worked better in a smaller setting.
“The schools are very receptive to our programs because we aren’t in competition but rather in a partnership to help the students to be the best and the brightest,” said Rose.
While there are many successful Sylvan locations in the greater Chicago area similar to Rose’s, the company has targeted Chicago as a city with untapped growth potential. As is true for many large metropolitan areas, the Chicago Public School system has suffered from budget cuts over the past few years. And as a result, they have cut back on extra-curricular activities and lowered teachers’ salaries. These cuts have led to larger class sizes, strikes by teachers and not enough support to help Chicago children succeed. While these are multi-layer issues that cannot easily be solved, Sylvan Learning is eager to help.
“Chicago is and will be a great market for franchisees to develop because there is immense opportunity to partner with the community,” said Georgia Chasen the Senior Director of Franchise Development for Sylvan Learning. “We have the ability to fill in the gaps that kids miss at school. In a place where students aren’t getting continuous education or enough attention, Sylvan can assist to make sure outside factors don’t affect the student’s education.”
From a business mindset, Sylvan is a great opportunity for people who have a background in education or just a passion for helping students. Molly Scianna, a new franchisee in Dekalb, Illinois, decided to open a franchise after being a stay-at-home mom for many years and realizing that she wanted to help her community. Partnering with Sylvan was the best way to make a big impact.
“I never thought much about franchising, but once my kids grew up and didn’t need me as much, I wanted to do something new for myself,” Scianna noted. “We have seen many budget cuts at our schools, and I knew from when I would volunteer at these schools that many students needed extra help. Since our opening almost three months ago, the town has been very thankful and appreciative of what we do.”
Finding tutors is never an issue for franchisees. Many tutors are local teachers who are working part-time after school hours or during the summer. Some are people who were affected by the budget cuts and lost their jobs.
Sylvan has a wide range of programs including the new EDGE program which offers an extremely affordable option for families with pricing as low as $99 a month. Rose recently rolled out these new programs and has already seen a lot of interest in Greys Lake and believes this will be a great program that will attract many people in Chicago.
Sylvan currently has over 750 locations throughout North America and is always looking for hardworking and dedicated franchisees, like Rose and Scianna, to join their team and help the students in their area be as successful as possible.
“Sylvan can make a positive impact on any community. Not matter what the local issues are, with Sylvan’s help, the students won’t be affected by the issues or politics and can still find ways to succeed,” said Chasen.