Engineering for Kids, a STEM education franchise, has been acquired by Canadian investment firm LaunchLife International, including the brand’s 89 franchised locations in 26 countries, with 40 in the United States. Dori Roberts, who founded Engineering for Kids in 2009, will remain the president while becoming vice president of youth education USA at LaunchLife.
“My role is really going to focus on franchisees and their local growth, which is fantastic for me because it gets me out of wearing so many hats,” Roberts said. “I’m looking forward to having more face time with my franchisees, that’s for sure. I’ve been pulled in a lot of directions, so I’m looking forward to that and growing my relationship with the franchisees.”
Roberts previously taught high school engineering for 11 years, in addition to leading her school’s student tech association. With about 180 students in the club, Roberts helped students prepare for national engineering competitions.
“While I was doing that, I had my own children, and my kids would come with me after school to meetings and grew up watching my high school students create really cool engineering projects and competing,” Roberts reflected. One summer, Roberts brought her children, 6 and 8 years old at the time, to a competition in Orlando, Florida. While she assumed they’d be sad about not going to Disney, they surprised her by asking why they couldn’t compete like the high school students.
“It was through that experience that I decided I’d start looking into what was being taught about engineering at the elementary level,” Roberts said. “At the time, STEM wasn’t a buzz word yet and engineering wasn’t introduced unless kids were in the gifted and talented program.”
With her expertise and degree in math and science education for both elementary and high school, Roberts decided to create an after-school civil engineering program for her son’s elementary school. With demand from parents for more programs and a summer school, Roberts thought, why not? But when her summer camps started filling up and neighboring communities started asking for more, Roberts started to see it as a viable business opportunity.
“I quit my job and started increasing the program and curriculums, but a few years into it, I started getting people from other states and even countries asking me if I sold my programs,” Roberts said.
After deciding franchising was the best route for her, Roberts started taking every franchise workshop she could find and reading books on franchising. She even hired an “awesome” attorney. Then in 2010, Roberts took the leap and her franchise has been growing ever since.
“It’s been wild to see kids in India reacting to the same engineering activities that I created in Virginia. It’s been very cool to see.”
For Engineering for Kids, this acquisition will mean more resources available in marketing, social media and other expertise for ‘zees. This deal also brings LaunchLife’s reach to more than 250 locations in 30 countries in both adult and children’s education, in line with their vision of providing unique educational services to as many communities across the globe as possible. Specializing in franchising education platforms, LaunchLife’s portfolio also includes Pitman Training, School is Easy and Academy of Learning Career College.