Nearly a decade ago, government officials in San Leandro, California set their sights on transforming the city into a “city of innovation”. Their strategy was to first attract startups and talent to build an innovation ecosystem in San Leandro, but Derick Lee believed that the best strategy would be to focus on cultivating youth in the community by creating opportunites for them to work together on cutting edge projects in areas like telecommunications, energy, transportation, healthcare, and education innovation. Lee created Pilot City to execute on this part of a strategy to transform San Leandro from within. 

Derick created Pilot City with the mission of prototyping a city of the future by building a civic innovation ecosystem that included the next generation workforce. To build this program, Lee’s first area of focus was education; he worked with Alameda County Office of Education, San Leandro Unified School District, and Hayward Unified School District to recruit entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs from within city schools. 

In his interview at the 2017 Civic Hacker summit, Derick details what Pilot City does for students and participating businesses. One of Pilot City’s projects is to transform classrooms into workforce incubators. Within these incubators students learn the skills to work on specific company projects through project-based learning (PBL), work-based learning (WBL) and industry-based challenges like hackathons. At the time of his interview, Pilot City had built incubators in 18 school districts within Alameda County including Oakland, Berkeley, San Leandro or Hayward, Fremont, Union City, Fashion Valley and San Lorenzo.

Pilot City helps companies identify their existing pain points, and then connects businesses with the student talent to solve the problem. Businesses gain specialized help and increase their employee diversity and engagement, while students get the opportunity to work on cutting-edge projects with real businesses. Students can also win scholarships and internships for their hard work. 

Gain access to this wonderful conversation with Derick Lee on the Civic Hacker Summit Archive to hear the full story about his journey, and learn about the tremendous opportunities Pilot City offers to businesses and students!

Hometown Hacking In San Leandro, CA

Derick Lee is the Founder of PilotCity, an organization on a mission to prototype the city of the future in San Leandro, California by incubating the city’s cross-sector innovation ecosystem of government, education, industry and citizenry. Working with partners in education, he is building an emotionally-invested innovation ecosystem with young citizens from the city.

In his interview for the 2017 Civic Hacker Summit, Derick shares his journey to creating Pilot City and the novel ideas that came to life in this successful program. Learn all about it when you gain access to the Civic Hacker Summit archives.

Watch the Full Interview