The ULI/REAP Virtual Fall Academy launched with more than 150 candidates enrolled in the live and on-demand programming running through graduation in mid-December.

The online academy is a collaboration between REAP (Real Estate Associate Program), the nation’s leading and most successful initiative connecting professionals of color to commercial real estate (CRE) for over two decades, and ULI, a longtime REAP supporter, and the oldest and largest global network of cross-disciplinary real estate and land use experts in the world.

At the October 12 opening reception held virtually, Osayamen Asemota-Bartholomew, REAP chief program officer, welcomed the candidates who represent a mix of students accepted for the spring semester, postponed due to the pandemic, and new participants.

Noting that “REAP has been bridging the gap between talent and opportunity for 22 years” and has hosted successful programs in markets including New York City, Chicago, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, Atlanta, and Dallas, Bartholomew added that the Virtual Academy cohort includes a far greater geographic distribution than in past years. Fall candidates are based in many of the largest U.S. markets, but also Massachusetts, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Arizona, plus Canada, Japan, and India.

Asemota-Bartholomew thanked ULI, an Executive Diamond sponsor, for its longstanding support and commitment and for helping forge the new strategic partnership. The eight-week ULI/REAP Virtual Fall Academy offers a suite of on-demand courses, live webinars, and industry panel discussions, taught weekly by senior-level CRE experts and industry leaders. Participants were also invited to ULI’s Fall Meeting and provided with ULI memberships to jump-start their professional transition.

Gwyneth Jones Coté, president of ULI Americas, also welcomed the incoming class, saying, “ULI is committed to accelerating minority representation in the real estate industry. Our partnership with REAP on the Virtual Academy plays a key role in supporting this aim by providing high-quality commercial real estate training to professionals from a diverse range of backgrounds. We hope that all of the participants will use their one-year complimentary ULI membership to meet people and access information that can help them advance their careers.”

Coté and other ULI team members outlined various ULI programs of interest to REAP fellows such as the Women’s Leadership Initiative, the Young Leaders Group, NEXT (for 35- to 45-year-olds), and the Building Healthy Places Initiative.

ULI executive vice president Cindy Chance, in charge of ULI Learning and product councils, described the purpose of the Institute’s educational offerings as “bringing good development practices into a community context.” Opening remarks were followed by a series of breakout rooms led by REAP alumni.

Odest T. Riley Jr., REAP-LA ‘15, CEO of WLM Financial, an Inglewood, California, brokerage and lending firm, told the candidates that he’d gained numerous connections nationwide through REAP. Advising all that CRE is “relationship-driven,” Riley urged participants to strategize wisely and cultivate relationships that “really resonate.”

Desiree Thomas, REAP-NYC ’17, told those in her breakout session that “REAP gave me the segue” to work in affordable housing. Thomas is currently co-chair of REAP-NYC.

ULI/REAP Academy classes will cover such topics as real estate development, site selection and land acquisition, finance and investment, emerging trends, and cap rates and 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 or transition a career into CRE or to expand knowledge in preparation for a potential career move.

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