Real Estate Institute Promotes Diversity


Real Estate Institute hosts program for high school student at Fordham University's Lincoln Center campus. (Michael Hayes/The Fordham Ram)

By Helen Stevenson

This summer, the Fordham Real Estate Institute (REI) at Lincoln Center hosted eighty-four minority high school students for the 2018 Project Real Estate Associates Program (REAP). The 12-day initiative focused on promoting diversity and educating potential leaders in the real estate industry through a series of curriculum-based lectures.

Project REAP was a collaborative effort of Coldwell Banker Richard Ellis (CBRE), Real Estate Executive Council (REEC), Commercial Real Estate Development Association (NAIOP) and NEXUS Summer Programs. The students applied through the NEXUS Summer Program, an organization focused on educating high performing students through programs across the country.

The lack of diversity at the management level of the real estate industry remains apparent, according to NEXUS.

Real Estate Institute hosts program for high school student at Fordham University’s Lincoln Center campus. (Michael Hayes/The Fordham Ram)according to NEXUS. 

In New York City, 78 percent of senior-level real estate executives are white men and 73 percent of real estate brokers in NYC are men. Women make 23 percent less than men in terms of income in the real estate industry, according to Nexus. Project REAP found that less than one percent of minorities assume management-level positions in an industry of over 125,000 professionals.

Jerrod Delaine, director of development at Carthage Real Estate Advisors and adjunct professor at New York University, taught the course and said the lack of diversity in the industry could be tied to a lack of opportunity.

“One of the issues is it’s a pipeline problem,” he said. “Not as many minorities and women are entering the field and working their way up to management positions or starting their own companies.”

The program is meant to get students involved early in the game – hopefully to pursue a career in the industry in college and graduate education.

“The program works with young people and teaches them the introduction principles of real estate as well as the vast professionals paths within the industry,” he said. “The kids were very receptive.”

Although Project REAP focused on classroom-based lessons and lectures, it welcomed people of color in the industry to speak to the students about opportunity and career paths.

“We had industry professionals come present different expertise within the real estate industry including real estate development, affordable housing, capital raising, civil engineering and real estate tech,” Delaine said.

According to Robert Morgenstern, director of Fordham’s REI, these speakers served as an example and a representation of opportunity for people of color to join the real estate industry.

“The industry professionals showed these high school students that there are jobs and opportunities within the industry for people of color,” he said. “It also showed the students that there are other positions than just property management in the real estate industry – and a lot of opportunities for high school students in general.”

REAP found success through the short program. At the conclusion of the program, NEXUS found that 52 percent of students are now interested in a career in commercial real estate, 41 percent will consider majoring in real estate and 98 percent are interested in a pre-college Commercial Industry Internship.

Morgenstern said that the students were a tight-knit group, positive and motivated to succeed. He said due to the success of the program, the university is looking to continue the summer program in 2019.

“We are definitely looking to do this next summer,” he said. “Although it is not finalized, the university is working to build and develop the curriculum for a summer program and hopefully we will be able to welcome more students and grow class size.”