WHILE THE GULF COAST HAS LONG BEEN a celebrated retirement paradise, Millennials have become the fastest growing demographic in the region, and local organizations want to keep them here and engaged in the community. It’s a big part of why Realize Bradenton launched programs like Pop Ups With a Purpose, a tech- and social media-savvy effort to attract young adults to interact with the local environment. For example, a program in October encouraged smartphone-armed 20-somethings to raid historic photos of the Pink Hotel and remake shots “Dear Photograph”-style, juxtaposing the sepia-soaked images of yore with new snaps of the modern Hampton Inn now open in the historic structure. “Participants will work in teams to compile a series,” explains Realize Bradenton Community Engagement Coordinator Catherine Ferrer, who sees these type of ephemeral events and efforts as a way to both follow the trends and enrich understanding of the community’s long-time assets.  In Sarasota, community leaders continue to engage young people in super-local community happenings. The groundbreaking STAR Leadership program, for example, gets students as young as high school involved with bank boards and community groups, and its subsidiary SRQVolunteen program signs students up for community service projects. At this point, SRQVolunteen has alumni as old as 29 still involved and remaining civically engaged. 

This page: Lobby of the historic Hampton Inn in Downtown Bradenton.