The St. Petersburg Foundation recently submitted its second-year business plan for the Lealman Exchange, a 77,000-square-foot, six-acre campus built to provide programs and services to meet the needs of an underserved community.
In April of 2022, Pinellas County and the St. Petersburg Foundation embarked on an innovative collaboration in the Lealman Community. Situated just outside of downtown St. Petersburg, Lealman is a diverse and dynamic community with immense untapped potential. The St. Petersburg Foundation envisioned the Lealman Exchange as a vibrant economic hub in the Lealman community, providing a wide range of opportunities for local businesses and residents alike.
The St. Petersburg Foundation was tasked with implementing the Lealman Exchange Strategic Plan and assumed full management of the Lealman Exchange facility. Through a collective impact approach, the St. Petersburg Foundation strategically developed a group of resources and services designed to support Lealman through local partnerships and organizations. Services include workforce development, soft skill workshops, financial training, mental health support, veteran’s services, and complete health and wellness.
The Building Blocks
The first step to setting the Lealman Exchange (LEX) up for success was to embark on an organizational listening tour. All current LEX tenants met with foundation staff to discuss their experience being part of the campus, their programming, and how they can be more fully involved in the new collaborative approach to serving Lealman. Local nonprofits were interviewed about their history of working with Lealman residents, their current programming, and how LEX could best support their efforts.
Once the organizational listening tour was completed, SPF staff revisited the self-reported community needs list developed for the Strategic Plan with a focus on pandemic-related changes to the social, economic, educational, and health challenges of the community. This involved direct community feedback through one-on-one interviews, participation in community groups and events, and data collection through traditional sources. SPF then developed a Matrix of Services to identify the current programs Lealman residents have access to and to highlight the gaps in services that aligned with the self-reported needs list.
The next phase of the process was to begin reaching out to area service providers who provide programming that would align with the identified gaps. Dozens of organizations began contacting the St. Petersburg Foundation, asking how to get involved at LEX, in the CRA, and the Lealman community at large. The foundation team met with more than 60 separate organizations over the last year.
First Year Successes
The first year of the Lealman Exchange was a resounding success, with the foundation team creating connections and forging new partnerships throughout the Tampa Bay area. As part of the LEX marketing and communications plan, the St. Petersburg Foundation created a full suite of logos and branded assets to help build the Lealman Exchange’s brand identity and begin building awareness in the community.
The foundation then launched lealmanexchange.org. The site includes a Lealman events calendar with an open form enabling community members and partner organizations to submit an event, a partners page with links to Lealman-specific landing pages for tenants and community partners, an application to rent space at LEX for an event or meeting, and details about the Community Center and the partnerships that provide services at LEX.
St. Petersburg Foundation also launched the Lealman Voice, a bi-weekly newsletter celebrating the people, places, and activities in Lealman. The Lealman Voice has gathered a strong readership since it was launched in early 2023, and many of the profiles, events, and articles are submitted by Lealman residents.
These initiatives provided essential support and resources to the local organizations and businesses that serve Lealman, empowering them to flourish and contribute to the community’s economic growth. The programs and services at the Lealman Exchange allow community members the freedom to dream, enhance their quality of life and connect their present to their future through transitional immediate needs assistance, as well as career planning, continuing education, and workforce development.
Year Two Plans
Building upon this momentum, the second-year business plan submitted by the St. Petersburg Foundation promises to take the Lealman Exchange to even greater heights. The plan outlines a comprehensive set of strategies and initiatives designed to enhance the Exchange’s impact and ensure its long-term sustainability.
One of the key elements of the plan is the hiring of a full-time Needs Navigator. The Needs Navigator helps residents ensure their needs are met, understand the full suite of community services that are available to them, and help connect residents with life-enriching resources like housing assistance, career development, child care options, and much more. The Needs Navigator will also follow up with residents, ensuring they are still thriving, even as their needs evolve or change. This role also helps the organizations in the Lealman community spend less time searching for in-need residents and focus on providing their essential services.
Additionally, the second-year plan emphasizes the importance of community engagement and inclusivity. The St. Petersburg Foundation envisions the Lealman Exchange as a gathering place for all members of the community, fostering collaboration and fostering connections. The plan includes the establishment of expanded tenant events, community outreach programs, and partnerships with local organizations to ensure that the benefits of the Exchange are accessible to everyone.
The second-year plan also includes significant capital projects, including building security upgrades, improvements to the LEX gym and stage, and a complete renovation of the on-site kitchen.
The submission of the second-year business plan marks an important milestone in the development of the Lealman Exchange. As the plan moves forward, the St. Petersburg Foundation will work closely with community stakeholders, local businesses, and government entities to bring its vision to life. Collaboration and partnerships will be crucial in leveraging the full potential of the Lealman Exchange and ensuring its long-term success.
With the submission of the second-year business plan, the St. Petersburg Foundation has set a clear path for the continued development of the Lealman Exchange. This ambitious initiative has the potential to transform the Lealman community, creating new opportunities, driving economic growth, and fostering a vibrant and inclusive business and nonprofit environment.