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Synchrony Commits $100 Million to Grow Minority-Owned Businesses

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Invests in Ariel Alternatives’ Project Black Fund to Scale Minority Businesses

Investment Builds on Synchrony’s Efforts to Advance Equity Among Diverse Businesses

STAMFORD, Conn., Feb. 2, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — Synchrony (NYSE: SYF), a premier consumer financial services company, today announced a $100 million commitment in Ariel Alternatives’ Project Black, which aims to scale sustainable minority-owned businesses and position them as leading suppliers to Fortune 500 companies. Project Black is a strategic initiative of Ariel Alternatives, the private equity subsidiary of Ariel Investments, LLC.

“Building a more equitable, inclusive economy is a business imperative.” – Brian Doubles, President and CEO of Synchrony

Synchrony builds on efforts to advance equity among diverse businesses by committing $100 million to Ariel Alternatives’ Project Black fund.

“Building a more equitable, inclusive economy is a business imperative,” said Brian Doubles, President and CEO, Synchrony. “Our investment in Ariel and Project Black will help give Black, Hispanic and women entrepreneurs the support they need to grow long-term. Synchrony is committed to providing the resources and expertise to advance equity for diverse businesses and communities.”

Project Black invests in middle-market companies that are not currently minority owned, as well as existing Black- and Hispanic-owned businesses, providing capital, resources and minority executive talent. Under Project Black’s ownership, these companies are expected to be transformed into certified minority business enterprises (“MBEs”) of scale to fuel Fortune 500 vendor and supply chain diversity. Synchrony, along with other investors, plans to explore collaboration opportunities with portfolio company management teams to pursue growth strategies.

“Synchrony’s partnership will help fuel widespread corporate vendor and supply chain diversity. With their support, we look forward to creating consequential middle-market businesses, changing the perception of what it means to be a minority-owned enterprise in the United States,” said Leslie A. Brun, Chairman and CEO of Ariel Alternatives. “We are delighted and honored to have Synchrony as an investor in Project Black.”

According to CEO Action for Racial Equity, in 2020, Fortune 500 companies directed an average of two percent ($125 billion) of their total spend to minority-owned businesses, yet many have pledged to dramatically increase their spend. With 95 percent of minority businesses having less than $5 million in revenue, few have the scale to tap into this $1 trillion opportunity.

Advancing equity, diversity and inclusion

These efforts build upon Synchrony’s ongoing commitment to treat equity, diversity and inclusion as a strategic business imperative and drive long term progress. The company’s holistic approach includes advancing financial opportunities and growth among diverse businesses and communities.

  • Synchrony and the Synchrony Foundation’s $50 million, five-year initiative, Education as an Equalizer, increases access to higher education, skills training in high-growth fields, and financial empowerment for underserved communities and its own workforce.
  • In 2020, the Synchrony Foundation committed $5 million to support funding of small business grants through community organizations such as the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) that provides emergency grants to minority- and women- owned businesses and Operation Hope which offers technical support and financial counseling. To date, more than 620 small business owners have received grants and support. 
  • Synchrony has been highly successful in its effort to hiredevelop and advance diverse talent within its own organization through a data-driven approach. The company has included diversity improvements among the metrics used to determine bonus funding for Synchrony leaders. Synchrony has also redesigned its leadership development programs so diverse employees can gain executive coaching, sponsorship and mentorships with senior leaders.
  • The company has committed to hire, upskill, advance and improve retention for Black talent without four-year degrees into middle skill and family-sustaining wage jobs. Synchrony has joined OneTen, a coalition of leading companies that is committed to creating a more inclusive corporate America by hiring and promoting one million Black individuals into family-sustaining jobs over the next decade. 
  • Synchrony hosts an annual Global Diversity Experience for all employees, leaders and members of its Board of Directors to deepen understanding while advancing a culture of belonging and well-being for all.

About Synchrony

Synchrony (NYSE: SYF) is a premier consumer financial services company delivering one of the industry’s most complete digitally-enabled product suites. Our experience, expertise and scale encompass a broad spectrum of industries including digital, health and wellness, retail, telecommunications, home, auto, outdoor, pet and more. We have an established and diverse group of national and regional retailers, local merchants, manufacturers, buying groups, industry associations and healthcare service providers, which we refer to as our “partners.”  We connect our partners and consumers through our dynamic financial ecosystem and provide them with a diverse set of financing solutions and innovative digital capabilities to address their specific needs and deliver seamless, omnichannel experiences.  We offer the right financing products to the right customers in their channel of choice.

For more information, visit www.synchrony.com and Twitter: @Synchrony.

SOURCE Synchrony Financial

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PickleRage Serves Up Franchise Opportunities for Entrepreneurs Looking to Get in On the Pickleball Craze

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MIAMI BEACH, Fla., Feb. 7, 2024 /PRNewswire/ — PickleRage, a premier indoor pickleball club, is thrilled to announce it is now offering franchise opportunities. Pickleball’s unprecedented popularity is the driving force behind the club’s expansion, offering entrepreneurs the chance to grow a business around the #1 fastest-growing sport in America.

PickleRage, A Premier Indoor Pickleball Club, is Now Offering Franchise Opportunities Nationwide.

PickleRage stands out as a unique franchise opportunity, backed by a seasoned leadership team of commercial real estate, operations, marketing, and franchising professionals. This group of experts has removed the guesswork associated with finding exceptional, transformable commercial spaces, with the goal of ensuring that franchisees can deliver the ultimate pickleball experience to players of all ages.

“Our leadership team brings a wealth of experience in real estate, operations, marketing, legal, and more to the table—or should we say, to the court?” commented Brad Smith, VP of Franchising at PickleRage. “We’re excited to invite qualified franchisees to join us in growing the PickleRage brand and capitalizing on the tremendous market potential of indoor pickleball.”

The PickeRage family entertainment franchise model includes real estate support, launch support, operational support, technology, comprehensive operating manuals, and marketing support to ensure franchisees have the tools they need to be successful in the growing pickleball market.

The franchise offers a range of investment options, from single-unit opportunities to multi-location ventures. Entrepreneurs can even explore the possibility of converting existing tennis clubs or other athletic facilities into thriving PickleRage establishments.

“We are actively accepting applications from investors, experienced franchise and business owners, and other qualified investor-entrepreneurs who are passionate about fostering active, healthy communities,” said Smith.

As a franchise owner, individuals will have direct access to PickleRage’s team of experts, each boasting decades of industry experience. New franchisees will also receive comprehensive training, cutting-edge software, detailed manuals, and ongoing support from launch to profit maximization. If you are interested in a franchise opportunity, please visit: www.pickleragefranchise.com

PickleRage is one of America’s fastest growing indoor pickleball clubs that gives novice & advanced players alike a place to play and connect. With world-class social, tournament, and instructional programing, you can see why pickleball players across the US are calling PickleRage clubs “Pickle-rageous!”  And with more than 500 locations planned over the next 5 years, PickleRage is set to take the pickleball-world by storm. For more information, visit: www.picklerage.com.

SOURCE PickleRage

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DREW BREES JOINS THE PICKLR AS AMBASSADOR AND FRANCHISE INVESTOR

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KAYSVILLE, Utah, Jan. 31, 2024 /PRNewswire/ — The Picklr, North America’s fastest-growing indoor pickleball facility, announces that 20-year NFL veteran and famed New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees has joined The Picklr as an ambassador, investor, and franchise owner. The 2009 Super Bowl Champion combines his passion for pickleball and community development by adding The Picklr to his portfolio of businesses, which already includes ownership in various multi-unit franchises.


As a national brand ambassador, Drew Brees will work closely with The Picklr to promote the brand and its mission to provide state-of-the-art sports facilities for athletes of all ages and skill levels. In addition, Drew will also become an owner of several facilities and act as the Area Developer of thirty Picklr franchises throughout Indiana, Ohio, and Michigan. An inductee of Purdue’s Intercollegiate Athletics Hall of Fame, Brees will open his first flagship Picklr location in Indianapolis in 2024.

“My mission in business and franchising is to work with top-tier organizations and people to create a best-in-class culture and provide exceptional experiences. I saw that immediately with The Picklr,” said Drew Brees. “We have created a community and environment where everyone can build relationships, compete, develop skills, and have fun while promoting a healthy and active lifestyle through one of the most popular sports in the world. Pickleball is for everyone, and there is no better place to be than The Picklr.”

“Everyone recognizes Drew’s prowess on the football field, but many may not realize that he has built franchising expertise for over a decade,” said Scott Schubiger, Chief Growth Officer of The Picklr. “Getting to know Drew over the last few months has made it abundantly clear that our collective passion and vision for the sport of pickleball are perfectly aligned. We are truly honored and could think of no better person than Drew Brees to join The Picklr family as an investor, brand ambassador, and 30-unit, multi-state franchisee.”

LINK FOR MEDIA ASSETS HERE

ABOUT THE PICKLR:
At The Picklr, pickleball is more than just a sport; it’s a lifestyle that fosters community, competition, and fun. With nearly 175 state-of-the-art clubs, professional coaching, and a vibrant atmosphere, The Picklr offers an unparalleled pickleball experience for players of all skill levels. All locations offer professional-grade outdoor surfacing, best-in-class technology, and access to free leagues, tournaments, and clinics. Follow The Picklr on Instagram, X, LinkedIn, Facebook, and TikTok for news on locations and tournaments, or visit https://thepicklr.com/franchise/to learn more about owning a franchise.

SOURCE The Picklr

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CHIPOTLE INTRODUCES NEW BENEFITS TO HELP ATTRACT AND SUPPORT ITS GROWING GEN Z WORKFORCE

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  • The company’s new benefits prioritize financial and mental health
  • For the first time, Chipotle is offering a Student Loan Retirement Match program and access to a special high-tech Visa card that can build credit for all employees
  • Chipotle is looking to hire 19,000 additional employees for its upcoming “burrito season,” the company’s busiest time of year running from March to May

NEWPORT BEACH, Calif., Jan. 24, 2024 /PRNewswire/ — Chipotle Mexican Grill (NYSE: CMG) announced today that it will be providing additional financial wellness and mental well-being support for more than 110,000 employees through a new Employee Assistance Program and enhanced benefits. The company will hire additional employees over the next couple of months to prepare for its busiest period of the year from March to May, which has been famously coined “burrito season.”

Chipotle’s new benefits will enable eligible employees to:

Chipotle will provide additional financial wellness and mental well-being support for more than 110,000 employees through a new Employee Assistance Program and enhanced benefits.

  • Pay off student debt while saving for retirement: Utilizing SoFi’s Student Loan Verification (SLV) service, once an employee becomes eligible for Chipotle’s 401(k) plan match, the company will match up to 4% of an employee’s salary through contributions to their 401(k) if they make eligible student loan payments. The benefit solution, launched in response to Congress’ approval of the Securing a Strong Retirement Act (SECURE 2.0), allows employees who qualify to no longer have to choose between paying off student debt or saving for retirement – they can do both.
  • Build credit through high-tech banking: Chipotle employees will have access to a premium banking experience from Cred.ai featuring a high-tech Visa card that offers security features, faster access to paychecks, and Cred.ai’s “Credit Optimizer,” which helps build and boost credit scores automatically, even for employees who already have good credit.
  • Manage their financial wellness: Chipotle’s partnership with SoFi will also give employees access to the SoFi at Work Dashboard, a leading financial well-being education platform, which includes an assessment of current financial outlook, followed by suggestions and tools to improve.
  • Access mental health resources: Chipotle’s New Employee Assistance Program (EAP), SupportLinc, powered by CuraLinc Healthcare, focuses on mental and emotional well-being. It includes six free sessions with a licensed counselor or mental health coach, as well as access to tools, resources, and community support for legal, financial, and family matters.

More than 73% of Chipotle’s restaurant employees are Gen Z, and these new benefits cater to the challenges they are facing. It has been widely cited that those born in the late 90s through the early 2000s are experiencing notable financial challenges, including racking up credit card debt faster than previous generations* and being nearly twice as likely as the general population to not feel confident managing their money**.

“Empowering our talent is embedded in our company’s culture,” said Ilene Eskenazi, Chief Human Resources Officer, Chipotle. “As we push toward our long-term goal of operating 7,000 restaurants in North America, it’s crucial that we listen to and adapt to the needs of our team members, so they can grow with us.”

Career Mobility at Chipotle
Crew members at Chipotle can advance to a Restaurateur in as little as three and a half years, with a total potential compensation package of approximately $100,000 while leading a multi-million-dollar business. Nearly 90 percent of current restaurant leadership started as crew members and progressed to management positions. In 2023, Chipotle promoted over 26,000 employees.

“Today we have many examples of crew members rising through the ranks and now holding restaurant leadership roles, which are among the proudest accomplishments of this organization,” said Scott Boatwright, Chief Operating Officer, Chipotle. “With 2024’s ‘burrito season’ approaching, there are more career opportunities than ever at Chipotle.” 

World Class Benefits
Chipotle’s new offerings continue to build on the company’s best-in-class employee benefits, including competitive wages: an all-crew bonus program, which allows its restaurant employees the opportunity to earn up to an extra month’s worth of pay each year; access to mental health care and medical, dental and vision insurance; English as a second language for employees and their families; tuition reimbursement and debt-free college degrees; 401(k) with employer match; paid vacation and sick leave; flexible schedules, free meals and more.

Those interested in joining Chipotle on its mission to Cultivate a Better World can apply here: Chipotle Careers.

*SOURCE: Credit Karma
**SOURCE: Intuit Prosperity Index Study – January 2023

About Chipotle
Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc. (NYSE: CMG) is cultivating a better world by serving responsibly sourced, classically-cooked, real food with wholesome ingredients without artificial colors, flavors or preservatives. Chipotle had over 3,300 restaurants as of September 30, 2023, in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, France and Germany and is the only restaurant company of its size that owns and operates all its restaurants in North America and Europe. Chipotle is ranked on the Fortune 500 and is recognized on the 2023 list for Fortune’s Most Admired Companies and Time Magazine’s Most Influential Companies. With over 110,000 employees passionate about providing a great guest experience, Chipotle is a longtime leader and innovator in the food industry. Chipotle is committed to making its food more accessible to everyone while continuing to be a brand with a demonstrated purpose as it leads the way in digital, technology and sustainable business practices. For more information or to place an order online, visit WWW.CHIPOTLE.COM.

SOURCE Chipotle Mexican Grill

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