Project REAP (Real Estate Associate Program), which has been connecting multicultural professionals to the commercial real estate (CRE) industry for 22 years, is launching its first 100 percent virtual program in collaboration with the Urban Land Institute—the ULI/REAP Fall Academy 2020.

ULI is a longtime REAP supporter and the oldest and largest network of cross-disciplinary real estate and land use experts in the world. The nonprofit organization’s ULI Learning division provides real estate education for students, professionals, and the public.

The virtual academy, which will launch in October, will mark a strategic partnership building on a longstanding relationship and commitment between REAP and ULI to bridging the gap between diverse talent and CRE. The eight-week Fall Academy will offer a suite of on-demand courses, live webinars, and industry panel discussions, taught weekly by senior-level CRE experts and industry leaders.

The program continues online what REAP has offered since 1998 through programs held, to date, in nine U.S. cities including New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles, Dallas, Atlanta, and Washington, D.C. Classes on topics such as real estate development, site selection and land acquisition, finance and investment, emerging trends, and cap rates provide an in-depth introduction to CRE terms, concepts, and processes seen from the perspective of industry insiders. The Academy lays the foundation to begin a career in CRE, transition a career into CRE, or to expand knowledge in preparation for a potential career move. Participants will spend about four to six hours a week on the course curriculum, which includes access to the on-demand weekly module, videos, downloadable resources, and live webinars.

REAP chief program officer Osayamen Asemota-Bartholomew says, “We look forward to having participants from across the nation join us this fall. Because this semester’s program is virtual and on-demand, REAP is able to recruit students from a wider geographic base than ever before and to offer all a great degree of flexibility in scheduling while retaining our same trademark standard of excellence.”

The commercial real estate industry’s professional ranks number less than 1 percent minority at management levels—fewer than 1,000 persons of color in an industry with over 125,000 professionals. REAP has increased that multicultural cohort by 10 percent by spotlighting a talent pool that was always there but previously unacknowledged.

REAP will choose candidates through a comprehensive selection and review process. Applicants must have a four-year degree (or be a current graduating senior) from an accredited institution. Candidates need to demonstrate an interest in commercial real estate through the application, yet real estate experience is not required since REAP seeks to identify candidates from a wide range of disciplines. Tuition for those selected is $750 for the eight weeks.

REAP is pleased to welcome the following sponsors for 2020: Marcus & Millichap; RXR Realty; Cushman & Wakefield; Poline Associates; Nuveen; Flagship Healthcare Properties; Seritage Growth Properties; PGIM Real Estate; Piedmont Office Realty Trust; and Ackman-Ziff.

As a part of REAP’s recent 7-point Call to Action for the CRE industry, employers and sponsors can invest in their investment by encouraging minority employees to register for this academy, as an opportunity to build their professional skills and power their careers in their current chosen path.

G. LAMONT BLACKSTONE is principal of G.L. Blackstone and sits on the board of directors for Project REAP.