Categories: Know

DiBenedetto’s Think Big for Kids tackles talent, opportunity gaps


Click the arrow above to listen to St. Pete Catalyst publisher Joe Hamilton’s interview with Think Big for Kids founder Tony DiBenedetto and executive director Amy Alley.

As a tech executive and entrepreneur, Tony DiBenedetto is a natural problem solver. After successfully selling his company Tribridge to DXC Technology in 2017, DiBenedetto turned his attention from day-to-day business operations to systemic community problems.

In his meetings with other area CEOs, DiBenedetto heard the same refrain time and again: Tampa Bay is short on talent, and retaining good talent is getting harder. In his volunteer life with the Boys and Girls Club, DiBenedetto was seeing another problem: most kids he spoke to had no idea what they wanted to do after high school, and they weren’t prepared for the future.

DiBenedetto realized that these two problems were connected, and from those experiences, Think Big For Kids was born. Think Big for Kids is dedicated to bridging the talent and opportunity gaps, two seemingly disparate problems, with one solution. DiBenedetto, in partnership with the Boys and Girls Clubs of Tampa Bay, is helping underprivileged kids with their career path development. Using a three-pillar approach, Think Big for Kids offers career exploration, mentoring, and job readiness/placement.

With the help of partner companies like Bank of America, Haneke Design, the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, Tribridge and many more, Think Big for Kids targets kids from 6th grade through high school, exposing them to career paths in the middle school years, providing mentoring through high school, and post-high school job readiness support into their first real job.

The program is taking off. Think Big for Kids started its pilot program in 2016 with six Boys and Girls Clubs reaching 500 kids, and this fall increased to 10 clubs reaching 750 kids. The organization is hoping to reach 2,000 children by 2022.

Mentors from partner companies spend time with students once a month talking about their careers, helping students pick high school classes, or connecting them to internships. Partner companies range from tech companies to banks to trades like electricians or painters. For DiBenedetto, it’s important to remind students that not all jobs require a four-year degree. Rather, many companies are willing to hire and train students out of high school, and trade schools are often an in-demand, affordable option.

If you or your business are interested in giving back to at-risk kids and securing your future workforce, sign up to volunteer or donate to Think Big for Kids here. 

Megan Holmes

Megan Holmes is managing editor of the St. Pete Catalyst. By day, Megan writes, project manages and practices untraining her oxford comma habit at the St. Pete Catalyst. By early morning and late night, she lives at CrossFit9 with a barbell in her hands. She believes that exercise is the greatest prescription for every ailment, but that a hot cup of coffee and a nice sour beer will do in a pinch. She loves all things local – so you might spot her trying out a new eatery, biking around this beautiful city, or walking her beloved Shiba Inu, Max.

Recent Posts

Your daily dose of levity: Clap for carers; ‘The Kindness Diaries’; St. Pete’s own Danny and Alex

Today, we're all about kindness. We're seeing it everywhere. Are you? Tell us what you're…

14 hours ago

How to prepare your systems for remote work with Chuck Egerter of Guardian Eagle

The St. Petersburg Chamber of Commerce presents: Coronavirus Impact Insights On this episode of Chamber…

14 hours ago

DeSantis orders New Orleans visitor quarantines, suspends vacation rentals, supports moratorium on evictions

People from New Orleans traveling to Florida will be ordered to self-isolate for 14 days,…

14 hours ago

FIBA companies innovate to deal with Covid-19, Catalina tracks what’s selling and other info you need to know

Three companies that have taken part in the Florida-Israel Business Accelerator have put their innovation…

15 hours ago

Lucky’s makes it official; Hitchcock’s wins bid for Tyrone store

Lucky's Market has announced the results of its bankruptcy auction for 23 stores and its…

16 hours ago

The virtual tip jar: Bay area livestream concerts this weekend

The ambiance is significantly different, and there’s no table-to-table service, but at least there’s this:…

16 hours ago