DiversityReal Estate

CBRE Group backs program to guide Black college students in to commercial real estate

CBRE Group, one of the largest commercial real estate services and investments firms in the world, is doubling down on bringing diversity to the commercial real estate sector.

Together with Project Destined, CBRE will sponsor the platform’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) Bridge Program – a curriculum that connects students with CBRE leaders and exposes them to industry career paths. Beginning this Spring, at least 100 students from select HBCUs will receive scholarships to participate in the program, each year.

“Too many groups have felt more victim than participant in change through real estate in their communities,” said Cedric Bobo, Co-founder of Project Destined. “This partnership gives us a chance to demystify real estate, create a pathway and provide the training that’s necessary.”

The bridge program, set over a span of six weeks, will give students more than 40 hours of firsthand exposure to careers in commercial real estate, including an executive speaker series with CBRE leaders, specialized workshops and career development sessions.

According to CBRE, students will focus on networking, leveraging LinkedIn, technical competencies, such as financial modeling and ARGUS, as well as interviewing and presentation skills. Participating academic advisors will also receive a fellowship stipend and collaborate with Project Destined to share program resources.

CBRE had previously worked with Project Destined, a social impact platform that provides training in financial literacy, entrepreneurship and real estate, in 2020 when the firm supported Project Destined’s virtual commercial real estate internship. Through that program, more than 350 students were trained, resulting in 76% of participants landing jobs or internships.

“Thanks to our comprehensive partnership, CBRE is gaining access to a rich pipeline of future talent from underrepresented communities of color so our workforce reflects the communities where we live and work,” said Tim Dismond, CBRE’s Chief Responsibility Officer.

Friday’s partnership news is a part of CBRE’s Community Impact Initiative announced in December 2021 – a $7.25 million commitment to help combat climate change, improve educational and career development opportunities for racial minorities and disadvantaged populations, and support community betterment efforts in its headquarters city of Dallas.

At the time of that announcement, Bob Sulentic, the company’s president and chief executive officer, said it is specifically eyeing programs that prepare underrepresented groups to flourish in the commercial real estate sector.

A 2017 Bella Research Group and Knight Foundation study found that just 1.3% of senior executive jobs in the U.S. commercial real estate industry were held by Black men, and less than 1% by non-White women.

In 2021, the Washington Post spoke with more than 15 Black people working in real estate development about their experiences, many of whom have been in the industry for years and hold degrees from Ivy League universities. Those developers agreed that their opportunities have been limited by racism, institutional bias and a lack of connection to powerful networks.

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