For Rachel Montgomery, Kentucky Fried Chicken provided her with much more than just her first job opportunity– it’s shaped her career and her life.

The 23-year old Louisville native and elementary school teacher credits KFC with not just assistance in obtaining her college degree, but a newfound family as well. In fact, Montgomery enjoys her work at the Outer Loop restaurant location so much, she still works there summers and school breaks in addition to her full-time job at Indian Trail Elementary. In November, Montgomery will celebrate seven years as a KFC employee.

Referred by a friend in high school, Montgomery began as a KFC front-line team member as a teen and quickly advanced to shift supervisor. It was then that the experience began to influence her life decisions. “KFC helped me want to become a teacher because I realized how much I liked teaching people.”

REACH  college assistance

Montgomery then applied for the REACH Educational Grant offered through the KFC Foundation. “The REACH program helped me tremendously,” said Montgomery. “I graduated almost debt-free thanks to receiving grants multiple times.” Montgomery received a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Spalding University last December.

REACH is one of four programs offered through the KFC Foundation that aid restaurant workers in growing and developing professionally and personally.

Personalized guidance

In addition to REACH Educational Grants, the Rise with GEDWorks program gives employees personalized guidance towards earning a high school credential, the KFC Family Fund is there to provide support during times of hardship or crisis; and the newest offering, MyChange, offers personal finance coaching. In the last five years, KFC Foundation has awarded $7.85 million to over 5,900 KFC restaurant employees through these four programs.

Krista Snider, managing director of the KFC Foundation, said you’d be hard-pressed to find another employer hiring entry-level workers that has such a comprehensive scope of charitable offerings.

Krista Snider

“As a parent, I would definitely encourage my child to consider KFC because between the employer benefits and the KFC Foundation, there is a vast array of resources,” said Snider. “As someone in a position to influence things we offer, what always comes to my mind is how would I want someone to help my child? That’s cool about what we do,” she said. “We have this comprehensive scope of programs to help people at more than one juncture in their life or career.”

KFC Family Fund

The KFC Family Fund, there in times of hardship, can be a godsend for an employee struggling with a sudden death, illness or natural disaster. “I can’t even tell you the heartfelt feedback we get about this program,” said Snider. “People are literally in some of the worst moments of their lives. The fact that the Foundation can step in to help means so much to them when they aren’t expecting it.”

Snider said from the KFC perspective, they want people to grow and fulfill their personal potential, whether it means they stay with KFC or move on to another company or career, because it still means a positive influence on someone’s life.

“If you stay with KFC long enough to benefit from one or two programs, that’s what we want. You’re more likely to think positively about your experience at KFC if you do. That’s where we circle back to the recruitment piece – when you tell your neighbor or sibling to check out KFC because of your good experience,” said Snider.

Generous benefits

In addition to KFC Foundation programs, KFC corporate restaurant employees also receive a generous benefits package, and ample chances for advancement ranging from a 401k retirement plan, medical benefits, vision and dental benefits, tuition reimbursement, an employee assistance program and more.

The KFC organizational culture is grounded in the People Promise, three short mission statements– Be your best self, make a difference, and have fun.

Rachel Montgomery said she lives those tenets in her work at KFC all the time. “You have fun because you love your job and the people you work for. Spreading positivity to customers and employees is making a difference. Being your best self for me was about facing challenges that helped me grow professionally and personally. Everyone there is eager to help you learn and be successful.”

Montgomery said she has taken key lessons from the restaurant to the classroom. “My people skills have enhanced my teaching skills and helped me to communicate with parents, co-workers and my students,” she said.

With a busy classroom of third-graders, why does Montgomery keep coming back to KFC in her off-time?

“KFC is like my family,” she said. “I’ve worked with some of those people since I got here. The positive environment is what keeps me coming back. I don’t want to leave because I love them like they love me.”

How do you become a KFC employee?

For information about careers at KFC, visit jobs.kfc.com.