“If [young people’s] expectations are not ever lifted, then they could go on believing that is par for the course and that poor people can't succeed.”

– Damon Dunn, Dunkin’ – Seattle, WA

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Damon Dunn, Dunkin’ – Seattle, WA

When Damon Dunn was growing up in Texas, he didn’t know anyone that owned their own business. Growing up in a family of 10 living in a three-bedroom trailer, Damon learned early in life the value of education, setting himself apart from his peers by excelling in the classroom – eventually attending Stanford University, “I didn’t know anyone who understood how to operate, start, fund, or manage a business. And so, in this environment, in the low socioeconomic status in which I lived, Dunkin’ was not something that was an option because of the lack of information.”

The relationships he built and the people who helped him along the way gave Damon the tools he needed to create his own opportunities. And today, Damon owns and operates his own Dunkin’ stores in five different states.

Damon says that his own background – growing up poor and without access to meaningful mentorship – is his motivation to go back into low-income and underrepresented communities today and uplift students by providing mentorship and resources. “The reason I want to go back into low-income communities is I want to lift the expectations of young people, particularly young people that are in impoverished communities or lower income communities, because they have more potential than what they are aware of. And if their expectations are not ever lifted, then they could go on believing that is par for the course,” Damon says.

So, in 2012, Damon founded the Long Beach College Preparatory Academy, working to find students with high academic potential and help them achieve their dream of attending a competitive four-year college, setting higher expectations for themselves that will help build a lifetime of opportunities.

For Damon, being a business owner in several local communities means being able to give back and build lasting relationships that are fostering the next generation of franchise leaders. “People don’t care what you know until they know that you care.” That’s the message Damon is spreading in his community, not just with his words, but with his actions.

Damon Dunn is a local business owner, and he is Open for Opportunity.

Chris McCuiston, Goldfish Swim School – Birmingham, MI

When Chris McCuiston does his job, he doesn’t only give a child the opportunity to enjoy backyard pool parties, sailboat cruises, and rope swings over the creek, but he gives them the chance to potentially save their own life. It’s why he and his wife, Jenny, opened Goldfish Swim School in Birmingham, Michigan in 2006.

Tamra Kennedy, Taco John’s – St. Paul, MN

Tamra Kennedy always wanted to own her own business.

That path started in 1984 when Tamra found a job in Des Moines, Iowa as a secretary for a gentleman that owned franchises – Taco John’s and Burger King restaurants. Tamra made it her mission to understand more about the restaurants and learn about how the business operates.