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Graduation gift: School receives $7M check from entrepreneur

ConnectWise founder Arnie Bellini's donation will fund a new arts center at Tampa Catholic, his alma mater.

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  • | 6:00 a.m. May 24, 2019
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Tech entrepreneur Arnie Bellini recently gave his alma mater, Tampa Catholic High School, seven million reasons to celebrate.

Arnie Bellini's $7 million gift will fund a new arts center at Tampa Catholic High School. Courtesy photo.
Arnie Bellini's $7 million gift will fund a new arts center at Tampa Catholic High School. Courtesy photo.

The disruptive founder and former CEO of ConnectWise — an IT management software firm  acquired by Thomas Bravo in February, a lucrative deal that created 70 millionaires — donated $7 million to the school in hopes of turning out more graduates who will be prepared for the tech jobs of tomorrow.

It’s also a small portion, about 10%, of the largesse Bellini and his wife, Lauren Bellini, plan to shower on “pay it forward” initiatives in the Tampa Bay region, where he’s lived most of his life.

“Software is replacing lots of jobs but also creating lots of jobs,” Bellini tells Coffee Talk. “But so many schools are training students for jobs that just won’t exist in the future. We have to be starting at the high school level to prepare students for the jobs of the future.”

In addition to funding educational initiatives at schools like Tampa Catholic, Bellini Inc., as he calls his new charitable venture, set a goal of creating 70,000 new tech jobs in Tampa Bay over the next 20 years. This will be Bellini's primary endeavor — although he will continue to be active with ConnectWise as a board member and senior adviser.

The most noticeable immediate result of the Bellinis' gift will be a new high-tech arts center at Tampa Catholic. The facility, he says, will feature an Internet TV station and other digital media facilities that will give students crucial skills to succeed in high-tech creative jobs in high demand.

“College prep is so myopic,” says Bellini. “College doesn’t prepare you for the world, so you have to be focused on world prep. That’s what our donation is focused on.”


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