KinderCare Learning Centers
|Industry||Early Childhood Education|
|Founded||Montgomery, Alabama, U.S. (July 14, 1969 )|
|Headquarters||Portland, Oregon, USA|
Number of locations
|1,700 locations (2014)|
|Tom Wyatt, CEO of Knowledge Universe
Dr. Elanna Yalow, CEO Early Learning Programs
Number of employees
KinderCare Learning Centers is an American operator of for-profit child care and early childhood education  facilities founded in 1969 and currently owned by Knowledge Universe. The company provides educational programs for children from six weeks to 12 years old. Some 200,000 children are enrolled in more than 1,600 early childhood education community centers, over 600 before-and-after school programs, and over 100 employer-sponsored centers in 39 states and the District of Columbia. Knowledge Universe employs approximately 30,000 people in the United States and the parent company is based in Singapore. Knowledge Universe also offers many other facilities internationally.
Perry Mendel, a real estate developer, founded KinderCare after speculated that increasing numbers of women entering the work force would increase demand for preschool child care. The company began as Kinder-Care Nursery Schools, and the first facility was opened on July 14, 1969. Accommodating 70 children, the center featured a distinctive exterior.
The non-profit groups such as churches dominated the day-care business and couldn't meet the demand. The idea behind Kinder-Care was to provide child care in bulk using economies of scale. Other companies such as La Petite Academy has the same idea, but Kinder-Care executed the concept most aggressively.
A second facility was opened in 1970. The company changed its name to Kinder-Care Learning Centers, Inc. to reflect its emphasis on education. By 1971, 19 centers were in operation and the first infant care was offered.
The Kinder-Care went public in 1972 and established a new corporate headquarters in Montgomery. To help with the mass marketing, Mendel employed Richard Grassgreen, an IRS attorney and tax expert. He would later becomes CEO.
By 1974 the company had 60 centers located in 17 states and over 500 employees nationwide. The company's first major acquisition came in 1977, when it purchased the 15 facilities of Playcare. In 1979, as Kinder-Care celebrated its tenth anniversary, three more major acquisitions took place: Mini-Skools, Living and Learning, and American Pre-Schools. In 1985, Kinder-Care opened its 1,000th center.
In 1987, Kinder-Care was reporting annual revenues of $900 million, and analysts were remarking on the company's rapid growth, observing that stock had soared from 12 cents a share to $20 at its high in mid-1987. During this time, Kinder-Care was expanding at the rate of one new center every three days.
Late in 1987, Kinder-Care acquired Sylvan Learning Centers, a provider of supplemental instruction to children and adults, and the largest franchiser of its kind.
Diversification and bankruptcy
Chief Executive Grassgreen led the company on an ill-conceived diversification plan in the late 1980s. The idea was suggested by Michael Milken, an investor from the firm of Drexel Burnham Lambert. In the 1980s, Kinder-Care acquired a wide variety of companies such as American Savings for $188 million. They also purchased photo studios, shoe stores and even invested in a foreign fertilizer manufacturer. As a result, the company's debt load increased from $10 million to about $620 million in 1988. The company found itself in deep financial trouble after the stock market crash in October 1987.
According to a 1988 Forbes article, less than half of Kinder-Care's sales and profits for the year were expected to come from its child care centers. A new company, the Enstar Group Inc., was formed as a holding company during this time for Kinder-Care and the other companies now associated with it.
Caught in a cash squeeze in January, 1991, Kinder-Care stopped paying interest on its debt.
During this period, Tull Gearreald, an investment banker, took command of the company as president and CEO. He promptly declared the company would remain focused on the original mission of caring for children. Still faltering under its high debt load, KinderCare filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on November 10, 1992.
The company continued operating, and in January 1993, in a move that helped their balance sheet, KinderCare sold off Sylvan Learning Centers for $8 million.
In 1992, the company updated its bell tower logo and removed the hyphen in the spelling of Kinder-Care.
KinderCare was acquired in 2005 by the Knowledge Learning Corporation (KLC) division of Michael Milken's privately held education services firm, Knowledge Universe. The KinderCare deal, valued at over US$1 billion, made KLC the nation’s largest private child care and education provider.
Knowledge Universe is one of Oregon's largest privately held companies and a large employer in the Portland metro area. Executive leadership is based out of the Portland National Support Center for Knowledge Universe. In 2012, company revenues were about $1.45 billion, down from approximately $1.6 billion in 2010.
Knowledge Universe timeline
- 1983–Opened Children's Discovery Centers (CDC)
- 1991–Acquired Magic Years
- 1992-CCLC, division of Knowledge Universe, founded by Fran Durekas 
- 1995–Acquired Prodigy Child Development Centers
- 1998–CDC acquired by Knowledge Universe Learning Group
- 1999–Knowledge Universe Learning Group initiated Knowledge Beginnings
- 2003–Renamed Knowledge Learning Corporation, KLC acquired ARAMARK Educational Resources, adding more than 700 Children's World Learning Centers, as well as the Medallion onsite and before- and after-school programs for elementary school students
- 2004–KLC purchased EdSolutions, a leading provider of Supplemental Educational Services (SES) before- and after-school programs for 2,300 children in four states, which then merged with Medallion to form the KLC School Partnerships division
- 2005–KLC joined forces with KinderCare in January 2005
- 2012- Tom Wyatt, former CEO of Old Navy hired as Knowledge Universe CEO 
Knowledge Universe, KinderCare's parent company, operations include: Knowledge Beginnings, Children’s Creative Learning Centers (CCLC), and Champions.
The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) and other associations have accredited over 700 KLC centers.
- "Tom Wyatt Named New CEO of Knowledge Universe-US". KU. 20 January 2012.
- "Our Executive Team". KU.
- "KinderCare Learning Centers LLC: Private Company Information - Businessweek". Businessweek.com.
- "15,000 BOOKS...TEN STATES...AND SEVEN COUNTRIES: KINDERCARE "READ.SHARE.GIVE" CAMPAIGN PROMOTES EARLY READING" (PDF). 22 September 2011.
- "Before-and-After School Programs, Break-Time Camps For Winter, Spring and Summer - Champions". discoverchampions.com.
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- Barbara Demick (2 December 1990). "Kinder-care Problem Child Its Portfolio". Chicago Tribune.
- Tracy Kolody (30 April 1988). "Kinder-care Buys American Savings". Sun Sentinel.
- "Can Kinder Care Put This Puzzle Together?". Business Week. 23 February 1992.
- "Milken, KinderCare reunited". CNN Money. 6 November 2004.
- "Knowledge Learning to buy KinderCare in $1B-plus deal". San Francisco Business Times. 8 November 2004.
- Linda Baker (27 January 2011). "Knowledge Universe reaches $1.6 billion in revenue". Oregon Business.
- Linda Baker (28 May 2013). "Expanding universe". Oregon Business.
- "Knowledge Learning Corporation Timeline". KLC.
- "CCLC Founder and Chief Development Officer Fran Durekas Named to Advisory Board at Center for Companies That Care". 19 January 2011.
- "KinderCare Learning Centers". KU.
- "KinderCare Learning Centers Accreditation". KLC.
- KinderCare Learning Centers – Official Site
- Knowledge Learning Corporation – Redirects to Knowledge Universe Site