Pilot Projects that Grew

Guardians of the Gulf participants

Good ideas often die as pilot projects.  What do I mean by that?  The term "pilot project" refers to a small-scale implementation that used to test an idea.  Its often the first step for a project in the Innovation District because the cost is less and the complexity can be reasonably managed.  We use pilot projects to prove that our idea works, create the core materials, and engage the first group of partners.   We celebrate the success of a pilot project and then struggle to find a way to scale it for a broader implementation.  However, this month we have seen two success stories of pilot projects thriving beyond the pilot phase.

The Guardians of the Gulf, a STEAM program about coastal and human resiliency, started as part of a grant that the Innovation District was awarded for smart city pilots.  The program is run by the USF College of Marine Science and has grown each year. Nearly 25 youth from the Royal Theater Boys & Girls Club of the Suncoast spent their spring break this year becoming Guardians. Check out this article by The Weekly Challenger "South St. Pete youth become ‘Guardians of the Gulf’ with USF."

The Digital Inclusion St Pete project started on February 14, 2020 - just before COVID.  A pilot project to address the digital divide in our community, it was co-led by the Innovation District and the Deuces Live District.  The starter funding came from a handful of grants by local and national partners.  This important work has now grown to have a dedicated leader and a new home.  Check out this article in 83 Degrees "Community Foundation Tampa Bay expands program to bridge digital divide."

Kudos to everyone involved in scaling these pilot projects into community-wide implementations!

(This article was first featured in our April newsletter - to subscribe to our monthly newsletter click here)

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