Think Big for Kids was developed in 2016 as a pilot program by Tony DiBenedetto, tech executive and entrepreneur, after working with teens at several Boys & Girls Clubs and observing a general lack of career awareness and preparation for life after high school.
At one club, he met with 80 high school students and only three raised a hand when he asked if they had plans for post-graduation education or training. Despite the Boys & Girls Clubs’ success in keeping at-risk teens safe and engaged outside of school hours, DiBenedetto realized our community isn’t doing enough to prepare them for the future. At the same time, he consistently heard from CEOs that finding great talent will continue to be one of their biggest challenges to driving growth and innovation.
Together with a team of volunteers, he created a programmatic roadmap that engages Boys & Girls Clubs kids from sixth to 12th grade through the completion of on-the-job training, trade school certification, a two-year or four-year degree, depending on their chosen career track. DiBenedetto recruited other businesses to join the program with a commitment to providing mentorship, internships, scholarships and ultimately job offers.
Today, Think Big for Kids is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that helps underprivileged youth discover their untapped potential by bringing them exciting opportunities for career exploration, mentorship and skills development. We remain committed to working with the Boys & Girls Clubs to expand the depth and reach of their existing teen.
A Win-Win for Future Workers and Their Employers
Think Big partner companies are diverse but they share common goals: to give hope to deserving kids and to build their future workforce. From technology and skilled trades to healthcare and hospitality, our partners have the opportunity to not only give back to at-risk kids in the community but also secure future talent.
In addition to exposing kids to different types of jobs through hands-on career showcases, field trips and internships, we take traditional mentorship programs a step further. We commit to hiring kids who remain in the program upon completion of their education. Think Big for Kids is philanthropic in nature, but we consider the business outcomes a win-win for employers and their future workers.
With the help of community businesses providing career exploration, mentorship and job readiness, we believe we can prepare 10,000 teens for the workforce by 2025.
We Believe Every Kid Should Have Options.
Think Big for Kids works with low-income students who are often overlooked and under-challenged. We are dedicated to helping all kids, not just “A” students, find a path to success that fits their individual passions, regardless of academic level, background or home life. There are numerous types of exciting careers in high demand, all requiring various levels of educational preparation. We want to expose kids to all of their options.
Think Big for Kids partners with area businesses representing high-growth industries to offer career showcases, field trips, mentorship, internships, scholarships and ultimately job offers. From electrical contracting and nursing to cyber security and technical design, partner companies provide a long-term commitment that will see the teens through the program, with an eye toward building their respective job pipelines with known talent they have already invested in.
Did You Know?
According to a 2018 survey of Boys & Girls Clubs of Tampa Bay teens:
committed to staying highly engaged at the Clubs between 2-5 days per week if they can receive tutoring and assistance with SAT and ACT prep.
want an adult mentor, peer-to-peer counseling and assistance with applying to college and entry-level job opportunities.
are committed to staying with clubs between 2-5 days per week if we offer interest-based job readiness career opportunities.