Graduate who founded tech firm gives Tampa Catholic a $7 million gift

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TAMPATampa Catholic High School has received a gift of $7 million from a graduate who went on to found a home-grown software company that made millionaires of many employees when it was sold earlier this year to a Silicon Valley private equity firm.

The gift from Arnie Bellini, former chief executive of ConnectWise, was announced at a Thursday morning news conference at Tampa Catholic, 4630 N. Rome Ave. It was said to be the largest ever to a Catholic elementary or high school in Florida.

Opened in 1962, Tampa Catholic has grown to an enrollment of more than 760 students and has 9,100 alumni, according to its website. The school features a college preparatory curriculum with 99 percent of its graduates continuing their education at a college or university. Part of the Roman Catholic Diocese of St. Petersburg, the school is operated by the religious order the Congregation of Christian Brothers.

READ MORE: Silicon Valley firm to buy Tampa’s ConnectWise, making millionaires out of scores of its employees

Bellini, who received degrees from the University of Florida and the University of South Florida’s College of Business, is known for his commitment, drive and hunger for big challenges. Outside of work, he swam the English Channel in his 50s, and has swum the 29 miles around Manhattan Island and the 21 miles from Los Angeles to Catalina Island.

Bellini and his family owned about 60 percent of ConnectWise. Bellini, whose father worked for IBM, launched ConnectWise with his brother David in 1982 in a bedroom of their parents’ Tampa home. The company has grown explosively over the past decade as it has acquired, integrated or developed its own business-management applications that customers access via cloud computing. It now has revenues of $240 million a year, with seven offices in the United States, India, the United Kingdom and Australia.

The sale of ConnectWise was announced in February along with the news that the deal was expected to create 300 new local jobs in coming years and pay $270 million to about 1,000 employees — 70 who would receive payouts of $1 million or more.

But 110 employees, 81 of them in Tampa, also lost their jobs in a company-wide realignment. The cuts followed an analysis of the company’s jobs.

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