Changing the playbook: Dallas Cowboys player and wife invest in local early childcare business

Brittany and Jamize Olawale with their three kids. (Courtesy)

In midst of arduous physical training sessions and hectic mental preparations as he transitioned into a professional football career nine years ago, Jamize Olawale’s personal life was kept at ease by the childcare facility his first-born son was in at that time.

A Children’s Lighthouse Early Learning School facility in the Denton area impressed the Dallas Cowboys fullback and his wife, Brittany, who mostly had the drop-off responsibility. They found a well-organized, relaxed and welcoming environment at the school.

“When you’re a new mom, it can be very nerve-racking,” Brittany said. “And you know, the both of us having to go to work sooner than we wanted to. [Children’s Lighthouse] was just a really positive experience.”

The work soon took Jamize to California to play for the Oakland Raiders, where he scored his first professional touchdown. But the young parents, who now have three children, could not find a childcare facility that lived up to the standards set by the school back in North Texas, according to the Olawales.

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Jamize made his return to the Cowboys in 2018 and signed a three-year, $5.4 million contract extension a year later. Recognizing their near-future now rooted in North Texas, it was time to enroll the little ones in Children’s Lighthouse pre-school again.

But the Olawales went a step further.

They bought their own Children’s Lighthouse franchise location.

“We went about looking at different businesses to invest in knowing there are many out there, obviously,” Jamize said. “But we always kept coming back to our first experience with Children Lighthouse, and actually stood out in our minds.”

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The Olawales will open a Children Lighthouse early learning school in Mansfield on Jan. 4, 2021. The new location will add to Fort Worth-based Children’s Lighthouse’s 55 locations already operating in various parts of the country.

Children from ages 6 weeks to 12 years old can enroll at the schools for educational child-care infused with a proprietary curriculum.

The integrated learning strategies, according to Children’s Lighthouse, focus on students’ intellectual development, social and emotional growth, active learning through hands-on lessons and embedded content that emphasizes the fundamental basics of phonics, reading, math, science and social studies.

“We look at ourselves as a premier private preschool,” Jamize said. “And we plan on, you know, offering the services.”

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A preferred starter on the Dallas Cowboys squad, Jamize decided earlier this year that he would opt out of the 2020 season due to the pandemic to take care and spend time with his family through the health crisis.

He has been practicing and trying to stay fit and hopes to rejoin NFL next season. Staying out and not playing the game has been challenging, Jamize said.

There was always plenty on the Olawales’ plate, however, to remain engaged. They own multifamily properties in California. After moving to Texas, the couple expanded into commercial and larger multifamily real estate complexes, which include an apartment building in Dallas.

Brittany understands Dallas-Fort Worth’s real estate trends more thoroughly through her capacity as an advisor and agent for brokerage firm Engel & Voelkers.

The latest acquisition in their real estate portfolio is the preschool property in Mansfield. And, they have plans to grow with the franchise brand.

“Our goal is to serve the city and community that we’re in which is Mansfield. So that’s really what we’re pretty hyper-focused on.” Jamize said. “But it’s something that we would love to expand in throughout the DFW area.”

Established 25 years ago as a company, Children’s Lighthouse has experienced continual growth as more parents acknowledge the necessity of educational child care, demand for which kept rising.

“We are growing into new areas with talented individuals such as Jamize and Brittany, who share our passion for community, nurturing care and education,” said Michael Brown, president of Children’s Lighthouse.

Last year, Franchise Times had named Children’s Lighthouse into its Top 200+ list, a ranking of the 500 largest franchise systems in the U.S.

Apart from the Mansfield location, four new Children’s Lighthouse schools are set to open in 2020.

“We couldn’t be happier about adding an early learning school in Mansfield and doing so with such dedicated individuals. Children’s Lighthouse has a bright future in the region,” Brown said.