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Paying it Backward on National Philanthropy Day

Tony March may be a celebrity to the public eye, but his modest tone and selfless behavior prove that his efforts come from gratitude, not success. Tony March is the author of the autobiography Paying It Backward, a book that discusses both the positive and negative experiences that led him to his life of giving.

Tony grew up homeless on the streets of Daytona Beach where he was forced to survive against discrimination, hunger, abuse, and poverty. His love for education earned him a scholarship at Howard University where he graduated with a degree in Engineering. After completing his undergrad, Tony worked at General Motors where he created multiple patents for the company and was later promoted to the highest position of Unclassified.

In the following years, Tony opened over twenty of his own successful car dealerships. This is where he began giving back to local communities. In 1994, he established the Tony March Foundation to fund educational projects. Tony also created the Pay It Back Foundation which helps feed the hungry, shelter the homeless, and encourage the brokenhearted to get back on their feet. Then, in 2010, he became a master poker player and won over $500,000 which was donated to the Pay It Backward Foundation and Metropolitan Ministries, a non-profit organization in Tampa.

However, all this information was unknown to the public until the Tampa Bay Times, honored him as one of the most intriguing people in Tampa. In his book, Tony explains his excitement about the public's knowledge of his different foundations. “I knew it meant a lot more people would hear about the work we were doing,” said Tony. “Maybe they’d write checks. Even better, maybe they’d be encouraged to take a shift at their local shelters.”

In 2020, Tony was interviewed on the Today Show where he publicly shared his story. Even when in the spotlight, Tony still took the time to discuss the charities he works with. Tony has shared that his humble behavior is guided by his favorite scripture, Matt 25:40 -- “My son, I gave you hardship in your youth, so that when you went from poverty to plenty, you could understand the struggle of ‘the least of these.”

Tony is currently volunteering in Tampa, FL, with the Pay It Backward Foundation, Metropolitan Ministries, and Metropolitan Ministries social enterprise Inside the Box to help prevent homelessness and hunger. For more information on Tony’s story or how to get involved at one of these charities, please go to

Natalie DiRoberto

Natalie DiRoberto is currently a Junior at The University of Tampa studying Communications, with a focus and culture media, and Marketing. Natalie was awarded the Dean’s Scholarship three years in a row at UT.

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