For the second year, the NYU SPS Schack Institute of Real Estate has partnered with the Real Estate Executive Council (REEC) on a summer program to introduce minority high school students to commercial real estate (CRE). The two-week residential program, Real Estate Exchange (REEX), is one of the largest national pipeline efforts to connect students of color to college-level instruction, mentorship, industry professionals, and internships in CRE.
The program is designed to address the scarcity of Blacks, Latinos, and other underrepresented groups within CRE, an area dominated by white male professionals (almost 75%, compared with fewer than 6% Black and 8.79% Hispanic*). “Real estate is an industry that has its roots in family businesses—and young people of color often don’t have access to the family resources that are available to other groups,” noted Dustin Jones, JD, academic director and clinical associate professor at Schack, who was instrumental in bringing REEX to NYU SPS. “For these youth, learning about real estate opens their eyes and fuels their interest in it as a career option.”
Jones himself came to the world of real estate indirectly when he worked on development projects as an attorney at a Phoenix law firm. “I fell in love with the built environment, the intersection of business, design, community building, architecture, and planning,” he recalled. Noting that “there were not a lot of people of color in those rooms, I made it my mission to invest in the next generation of diverse students.” He added that Schack is involved in a three-pronged program of outreach to and education for youth: through REEX; a collaboration with NYCHA for students in public housing; and a pre-college real estate program.
After being held virtually through Zoom last year, REEX will bring 50 students from around the country to NYU from July 11 to July 22. They will learn about commercial real estate fundamentals; gain experiential learning through visits to iconic sites such as Hudson Yards and Rockefeller Center; and engage with CEOs and business executives. The summer program will culminate with a competition in which top students will apply the skills they have learned to a real-world case study. Along with the Schack Institute, other participating universities are Harvard, MIT, Howard, the University of Miami, and Cornell. REEX will cover all of the expenses for hosting the students on campus.
The exposure to real estate has been invaluable to students who have previously attended the program including Fathima Shaikh, who gained vital industry exposure through REEX last year. “I joined the REEX program as a high schooler who had no knowledge of commercial real estate and the power it holds to shape our communities. The program taught me about many things I didn't know before: such as zoning, affordable housing, and what commercial real estate is, in addition to providing an intro to financing development projects, and more,” she said. “I also learned about a nationwide affordable housing development firm and after cold emailing the CEO, negotiated an internship opportunity with them. Now, I am immersed in the world of social impact real estate and commercial development.”
*According to an article published by the National Association of Real Estate Brokers (NAREB), based on statistics from the US Census Bureau