News releases



Sam’s Club Giving Program Awards $500,000 Grant to First Children’s Finance to Help Increase and Sustain High-Quality Child Care Businesses

BENTONVILLE, AR, July 23, 2014– The Sam’s Club Giving Program today announced a $500,000 grant to First Children’s Finance (FCF) to provide finance and management assistance to child care businesses in low income communities. The grant will allow FCF to pilot a technical assistance program aiming to improve overall business operations for child care business owners. Almost 90 percent of FCF clients are child care businesses operated by women, furthering Sam’s Club commitment to supporting women-owned small business growth and prosperity.

The pilot programs launch this month in Minnesota and Iowa through the following FCF initiatives:

  • Greater Than MN Projectfocused on serving child care businesses in Southern and Northwestern Minnesota
  • Guided Growth Projectserving Western Iowa

The grant comes at a critical time for child care businesses, as the demand for child care provided outside of the home is on the rise. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, such demand is due to the increase in the number of working women, changes in family structure and the desire to provide young children with educational opportunities. The Sam’s Club Giving Program grant will help meet this demand in lower income communities and provide an engine for regional economic growth.

The $500,000 grant will enable FCF to help children, families and communities thrive by increasing the availability, affordability and quality of early care and education. More specifically the grant will:

  • Launch four programs in communities across Minnesota and Iowa to help improve business knowledge and skills
  • Improve business operations in 24 child care programs through education, technical assistance and resource development
  • Award $250,000 in loans ranging from $14,000 to $25,000 each to 12 child care businesses for compliance and quality improvements which could include hiring workers with early childhood expertise
  • Create or preserve 40 new quality child care slots

“The lack of access to capital and management assistance continues to be a challenge for these women-owned businesses,” said Jerry Cutts, CEO at First Children’s Finance. “We hope to help businesses overcome these challenges by making operations more efficient and integrated, placing a higher focus on measurable business results, and developing a framework that can be easily replicated by other communities.”

The long-term results of the pilot programs will shape strategy for the eventual establishment of the FCF National Child Care Technical Assistance Center, a national program to help states and communities expand and sustain quality child care.

“When Sam’s Club opened in 1983, the very first member to sign up, Kathy Cronemiller of Midwest City, OK, owned a day care business. Like Kathy, most child care owners come to the industry out of a passion to help children, and then find themselves leading a highly regulated and complex business with razor thin profit margins of three to five percent,” said Susan Koehler, Senior Manager of Community Involvement, Sam’s Club. “Sam’s Club is pleased to support First Children’s Finance to give business owners like Kathy the resources, tools and confidence to streamline their operations and provide the best possible child care to their communities.”

In the latest Sam’s Club/Gallup Microbusiness Tracker, less than three percent of women business owners reported funding their businesses through grants and government loans, more commonly leveraging personal savings (61%) and credit cards (40.1%) to stay afloat. Through this grant, Sam’s Club and First Children’s Finance can provide more small business owners with increased access to training, resources and capital they need to grow and sustain successful enterprises.

About Sam’s Club

Sam’s Club, the nation’s eighth largest retailer and a leading U.S. membership club, offers savings and surprises to millions of members in 640 U.S. club locations and at The Sam’s Club Giving Program, established by the Walmart Foundation in 2008, is dedicated to micro- and small business prosperity with goals increase access to responsible training, education and capital for small business owners. For more information on national or local giving, visit

About First Children’s Finance

First Children’s Finance, a national nonprofit, provides financial and business-development assistance to high-quality childcare businesses serving low- and moderate-income families. A certified Community Development Finance Institution (CDFI), First Children’s Finance currently lends in ten states, including Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, North Dakota, South Dakota, Texas, Washington and Wisconsin. Based in Minneapolis, First Children’s Finance also has regional offices in Iowa and Michigan. For more information visit www.firstchildrensfinance.orgor call us toll-free at (866) 562-6801