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The Foundation is Celebrating 20 Years of Brightening Lives

March 20, 2019

Twenty years ago, Bright Horizons employees created the Bright Horizons Foundation for Children to bring to life a core component of our mission – to make a difference in the lives of children and families in the communities where we live and work.  The Foundation would allow us to extend our child development expertise beyond our center walls with an initial focus on children and families experiencing homelessness.

A lot has changed since then. The Foundation has broadened its focus and deepened its impact over its 20 years. While we still work with families experiencing homelessness, we’ve expanded to helping children and families in a range of settings. This includes in domestic violence shelters, in prisons for children of incarcerated parents, for children in the foster system, and in a host of other agencies serving children in crisis.  What hasn’t changed since 1999, is the HEART of our Bright Horizons employees, who dedicate their time, expertise, and passion to these important efforts.

Bright Spaces

In 2000, a small team of Bright Horizons employees used funding from Bright Horizons client HSBC Bank to help open the first Bright Space at a Salvation Army shelter in Buffalo, NY. We have now opened more than 350 Bright Spaces in the U.S. serving more than 130,000 children a year. Bright Spaces, the Foundation’s signature program, are warm, safe, enriching places that enable children experiencing crisis to:

  • build caring relationships,
  • heal from trauma through play, and
  • experience the joy of childhood.

Recently, we crowd-funded the creation of a unique Bright Space to help children and families seeking asylum on the U.S. border in McAllen, TX. The Restoring Dignity Bright Space serves hundreds of children and families a week, and we are now working on our second project with them – an outdoor Bright Space.


A great deal of our work has always been funded by the amazing generosity and support of Bright Horizons employees. We’ve raised almost $3.5 million dollars through our annual Employee Campaign over the years. We’ve also engaged our colleagues, families at our centers, and clients in FUNdraisers throughout the years. This began by focusing on raising funds for specific Bright Spaces and has evolved to centers, schools and departments getting together and hosting events to raise funds, build connections, and raise awareness of the Foundation’s work and its important role within our organization. One of our biggest annual fundraisers – a golf tournament for Bright Horizons’ vendor partners sponsored by our Facilities team – has raised more than $1 million over the last 13 years.


In addition to creating Bright Spaces with the money donated and raised, the Foundation also provides grants to honor and celebrate Bright Horizons employees who volunteer in their communities. Gleason Grants, named after the Foundation’s former President, Dave Gleason, are given to nonprofit agencies where our employees volunteer. We’ve also distributed grants in the wake of natural disasters to help children and families impacted, and each year we award a substantial grant to an agency serving children in memory of Jim Greenman, a Bright Horizons educator and past Chair of the Foundation’s Board. Over the last two decades, we’ve given more than $2 million in grants.

Employee Involvement

The energy and enthusiasm of Bright Horizons employees is the lifeblood of the Foundation. We have come together to create Bright Spaces since the Foundation’s inception.  “I had an opportunity work on a Bright Space, and it was such an amazing experience,” said Director Jen Cranmer. “The Foundation is here to give all children an opportunity to have the amazing childhood that they deserve to have.”

We have recently been focused on establishing sustained relationships with our Bright Space agency partners through our Connectors program. More than 280 Bright Horizons employees serve as Connector volunteers, maximizing the impact that we deliver through our Bright Spaces. Our Brightening Lives Activities provide opportunities for teams to provide ongoing support and resources. They have become an integral part of company culture as they are held at events like our 1,200 person Leadership Conference to smaller staff and department meetings. Colleagues build camaraderie and team spirit while working together to make a difference as a member of the Bright Horizons family.

As we look back on 20 years of the Foundation, we would like to thank our volunteers, our donors, our supporters, and all those who believe in what we are working so hard to accomplish. The Foundation’s work over is a core component of the fabric of Bright Horizons.  We can’t wait to see what we can accomplish together next.

Stay tuned for more stories this year as we celebrating 20 years of Brightening Lives while also looking ahead to our exciting future.

This is YOUR Foundation!