Metro Detroit man takes lesson from youth, opens non-profit daycare


STERLING HEIGHTS, Mich. (WXYZ) – Self-described “key kid” Mark Zahringer has had a rough start; his parents separated when he was six and he left home at 15.

“It’s really easy to go in the wrong direction, and I was going in that direction,” he said, noting his difficult teenage years.

“Education has changed my life. I would tell people that it saved me, ”he said.

Mark eventually enrolled in Notre Dame High School.

“With a lot of good mentors, I was able to complete my secondary education and then university,” he added.

As a young adult, Mark was arrested at gunpoint while working in a video store in 1985. He left Detroit after this heartbreaking experience and continued to work in marketing and admissions for colleges and universities across the country. He found entrepreneurial success in the West.

And then the pandemic struck, and every day Mark saw reminders of the current child care crisis; a problem that is still close to his heart. Despite his rough start here, Mark always intended to return to the Detroit subway and open an affordable daycare.

Mark opened Legacy Children’s Academy in Sterling Heights a few weeks ago. The Montessori-style learning center accommodates infants up to 6-year-olds. So far they have seven students, the majority of them qualifying for reduced tuition fees.

“We ended up doing this like I said, unexpectedly because Heritage Church had approached us,” Mark said.

Although not affiliated with Heritage Church, Legacy Children’s Academy shares its space.

“They knew what our mission was,” Mark said of Heritage Church.

This mission: to meet parents where they are. As a non-profit organization, Legacy offers tuition and education services at a discount with the help of Peaceful Hugs, Mark’s sister.

As for Legacy Children’s Academy, “All the money that comes in comes back in some form or way,” said Mark.

He hopes to open a second tuition-free location in Detroit in the 6 Mile and Gratiot area.

“We are hoping to open around January or February and are looking for a location now,” Mark told Action News.

The most recent US employment report shows that the vast majority of people leaving the workforce are women; highlighting the current children’s crisis and its impact on the economy.

Click here for help with child care in the state of Michigan.

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