School-to-Work is a three-way partnership between the local school districts, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Tampa Bay, and our corporate and community partners to provide one-to-one mentoring in the workplace for high school juniors and seniors to help improve graduation rates. The students (Littles) visit the workplace of the employees (Bigs) one morning each month during the school year for about three hours. They spend an hour learning post-graduation skills, then spend one-to-one time with their Bigs through lunch before returning to school. To learn more, contact Sandy Traynor at

Why School-to-Work?

Many young people leave school before graduating and live in a cycle of poverty.  The School-to-Work program targets students who are at risk of possibly not graduating, gives them exposure to workplace environments, and matches them with mentors who can encourage them to stay in school and make an empowered transition to the work world.  The School-to-Work Program prepares students for life.

Typical Session

9:30: Students arrive from school with a School Chaperone and a BBBS School-to-Work Coordinator
9:30-10:30: Students participate in a workshop on various topics
10:30-11:30 Students shadow their mentor in the workplace; matches are provided with lessons and conversation starters
11:30-12:30: Students and mentors have lunch
12:30: Students depart with Chaperones back to school

How it Works

  • Students and volunteer mentors make a commitment to staying with the program for two school years.
  • During the first year, juniors from one high school are paired with volunteer mentor employees at one workplace partner.
  • Students go to the workplace once a month for three hours; combining mentoring relationship building and shadowing (one-to-one time) with educational topics.
  • During each visit, workplace partners and/or BBBS conduct a brief workshop for the students (topics include emotional intelligence, time management, planning for college/financial aid, resume writing and interviewing skills, professional etiquette, financial planning, and conflict resolution).
  • Workplace partners provide breakfast, snacks, and lunch to students.
  • BBBS staff provides support & guidance to workplace partners.
  • BBBS staff work alongside school staff (e.g., Guidance Counselors) to ensure the program is successful.

Benefits to Employers

  • Recruitment: candidates are attracted to organizations that share similar values and want to give back to their community
  • Volunteerism: our onsite program is a convenient way for employers to bring volunteer opportunities to their employees
  • Engagement: helps employers maintain/build employee engagement
  • Retention: people want to stay with organizations that make a difference
  • Team Building: brings people from different parts of the organization together to strengthen the organizational culture
  • Diversity: our innovative mentoring model appeals to a diverse and multi-generational workplace 


of seniors who completed the School-to-Work program graduated from high school


Littles enrolled in School-to-Work in the 2020-2021 school year


lower turnover among employees who participate as workplace volunteers *


of millennial employees have a stronger sense of loyalty to employers who are socially responsible *

* Big Brothers Big Sisters of America. (2020). Equipping Tomorrow’s Workforce: The Case for Beyond School Walls. Retrieved from


If I was able to tell someone about this program and what it has done for me it would be that this program provided me with positivity and motivation and taught me to always try my best and that someone is always there to help you.

Little in the School-to-Work Program

For my team members, for all of you that were Bigs in this program, for all of you that served in a Leadership role, this is living out our core values. And so we at CenterState do not believe that what we do for a living is the most important thing in our lives, that we do what we do for a living to take care of the things that are the most important things in our lives. And by investing in the lives of these folks through Big Brothers Big Sisters, I think it is a tangible example of us living that core value and I could not be more proud of you all.

Mark ThompsonPresident of CenterState Bank


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