Building a win-win corporate diversity program


Commitment to diversity starts at the top and once that happens, there are a number of educational programs dedicated to training and increasing the pool of qualified minority candidates. The Whitney M. Young Conference sponsored by The Wharton School, The Wall Street Project sponsored by Rainbow Push, and The Mortgage Bankers Association of American are examples of these programs. Below are some leading programs and contact information:

Project REAP, the Real Estate Apprentice Program’s mission is to recruit and train minorities for professional careers in the commercial real estate industry, through education, networking, and internships with leading real estate firms. REAP was launched in Washington, DC, in 1997 and in Atlanta in October 2001. REAP also sponsors courses in real estate at Howard University and Clark Atlanta University.

Cushman & Wakefield is the anchor sponsor in Washington and Atlanta. Joining as Washington Sponsors are Cassidy & Pinkard, Giant Food/GFS Realty (re-enlisting), Simon Property Group, Staubach, Northeast, and Westfield Corporation. Atlanta Sponsors include Duke Realty Corporation, Regent Partners, and Simon Property Group. (Source: Project REAP website)

Lusk Center for Real Estate based at the University of Southern California was recently endowed by its Chairman Stan Ross and his wife Marilyn Ross for $1 million to “offer more programs and expand nationally.” Founded in 1992, it is described as “the nation’s only comprehensive, minority real estate development training program aimed at revitalizing inner-city neighborhoods by teaching business professionals the fundamental skills needed to develop affordable housing, retail, mixed-use, offices and community facilities in underserved communities.”

Ross states that this initiative “presents a unique opportunity to increase diversity among future leaders in the real estate industry while developing struggling communities.”

Path to Diversity. Created by Freddie Mac and Mortgage Banker Association, this two-pronged program is “committed to helping participating lenders achieve success with their internships programs.” LenderCareers works with colleges and universities in placing qualified minority candidates in real estate finance careers. CampusMBA offers free video conferences and online curriculums that includes: Loan Production, Loan Administration, Commercial Real Estate Finance, Quality Assurance and Risk Analysis, Mortgage Industry Leadership and Secondary Marketing.

Author: Sheryl P. Simons is a freelance writer based in Philadelphia. She holds an M.B.A. from The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and her articles have appeared in Newsweek, The Philadelphia Daily News, The Philadelphia Tribune, Intelligent Enterprise Magazine and VAR Business Magazine.