Commercial real estate has long been a white, male-dominated industry. A Bella Research and Knight Foundation study found that white men hold more than 75 percent of US commercial real estate senior executive roles. In comparison, only 1.3 percent of senior positions were held by Black males, and less than one percent were Non-White women. Also, it found that women owned 0.7 percent of 889 real estate investment firms, and just two percent were minority-owned.
However, the NYU School of Professional Studies Schack Institute of Real Estate, Taconic Partners, and the Fund for Public Housing are joining forces to help change that dynamic. Earlier this year, this triumvirate launched a pilot program that will provide a cohort of 20 New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) high school students with an entry point to a commercial real estate career while introducing them to college student life. The inaugural program, which includes NYCHA youth residents currently enrolled in 11th- and 12th-grades from all five NYC boroughs, started on Saturday, March 19th, and will continue for eight Saturdays through May with participation from the NYCHA Real Estate and Resident Engagement Departments.
The NYCHA Real Estate Scholars Program, made possible with a grant from Taconic Partners, emphasizes equity and diversity in the real estate sector and will focus on introducing NYCHA youth residents to real estate development and Taconic projects such as Essex Crossing, West End Life Sciences, and Sherman Creek located in their neighborhoods.
“Working closely with Taconic and the Fund for Public Housing, we created this program to give students early exposure to the commercial real estate industry's tremendous career opportunities and experience college life,” said Brian Schwagerl, clinical assistant professor and Schack’s lead on this initiative. “As part of the program, they will explore various aspects of commercial real estate, including development and redevelopment, environmental and engineering review, design, and development, construction, joint ventures and public-private partnerships, capital and financing structure, and sales and marketing.”
The program underscores the commitment of NYU SPS and Dean Kamath to making higher education opportunities and career possibilities more accessible to all and developing the future workforce. The course curriculum is designed and delivered by the Schack Institute faculty, including Schwagerl, and Stephen Soler, adjunct instructor and managing director at Stockbridge Realty Advisors LLC.
Claire McLeveighn, deputy director at the Fund for Public Housing, stated, “The Fund for Public Housing creates and leverages resources and relationships, such as this one with NYU SPS and Taconic Partners, to enhance the opportunities and quality of life for New York City Housing Authority residents while uplifting the importance of public housing to our city. NYCHA’s 100,000 youth are the centerpiece of our commitment to economic opportunity and equity for NYCHA residents.”
“At Taconic, we believe in investing in the future generation of real estate leaders,” said Charlie Bendit, co-founder and co-CEO at Taconic Partners. “In order to welcome new perspectives and positive change, we need to champion more inclusive representation across the industry. Through classroom work and on-site construction tours, this experience will allow diverse students to think like a real estate professional and encourage them to cultivate their own ideas that will improve the urban environment.”