Think Big for Kids, a nonprofit founded by Tampa tech entrepreneur Tony DiBenedetto, celebrated big Thursday night.
Hundreds of people joined DiBenedetto at The Hall on Franklin at a party to thank donors, volunteers and partner organizations, to recognize Think Big for Kids’ success to date, and to raise awareness of the organization, which was created to help underprivileged youth discover their untapped potential.
Currently Think Big for Kids serves about 750 young people at 10 Boys & Girls Clubs of Tampa Bay. The goal is to prepare 2,000 teens for the workforce by 2022.
Think Big for Kids was formed when his personal and professional worlds collided, DiBenedetto said at Thursday’s celebration. He grew up in poverty and succeeded thanks to mentors who helped him in his educational pursuits. He co-founded Tribridge, a Tampa software and cloud services company, and was CEO when Tribridge sold to DXC Technology Co. in July 2017 for $152 million.
“My tech CEO hat has all been about talent. We need more talent. People try to be creative about talent. For 25 years we’ve been trying to solve that problem. If you look forward we’re short 20 million workers in the U.S. in the next 15 or 20 years. We go off-shore before we look in our own neighborhoods. I kept thinking, there’s a better way to solve this problem,” he said.
Think Big for Kids offers career exploration, mentoring, and job readiness/placement.
“Our mission is breaking the cycle of poverty for kids. We’re helping them figure out what they are passionate about, giving them exposure to lots of careers, mentoring them and then bringing them to their first job,” he said. “This is not a one-year program. It’s not a two-year program. It’s a 10, 12-year effort.”
Think Big for Kids has attracted corporate support from throughout the Tampa-St. Pete area, including from ReliaQuest, a Tampa cybersecurity company that was presenting sponsor for the Thursday night gathering.
DiBenedetto wants to raise $500,000 by December for the initiative. Since June, he’s raised $470,000, he told the St. Pete Catalyst.
DiBenedetto didn’t ask for financial support at the party, but he said there were several ways interested people could get involved. Click the video for that.