Nonprofit teams with real estate companies to connect local youth of color to careers in property management

WASHINGTON, DC – Urban Alliancea national youth workforce development organization, partnered with the Pension Real Estate Association (PREA) Foundation to launch a new program introducing local youth from communities of color to upwardly-mobile, living-wage careers within the real estate industry. The Property Management Pathway connects high school students in the greater Washington, DC region with paid, real-world work experience and industry training in leasing and maintenance with the goal of supporting their transition to part- or full-time work within the industry after graduation. 

With critical early support from the PREA Foundation and the Diane & Norman Bernstein Foundation, Urban Alliance launched the Property Management Pathway to reduce the systemic barriers that prevent talented youth of color from accessing upwardly-mobile, living-wage jobs in their own communities and build a more diverse pipeline for the industry. 17 companies in the region signed on to host interns: AKA, Bell Partners, Bernstein Management Corporation, Bonaventure, Bozzuto, Fairfield Residential, Flock DC, Gables Residential, Gates Hudson, Greystar, Horning Brothers, JBG Smith, LCOR, Penzance, Somerset Development Company, Van Metre Companies, and the Washington Housing Conservancy. 

Beginning with an inaugural group of 30+ high school seniors from schools across Washington, DC, Prince George’s County, MD, and Alexandria, VA, the Property Management Pathway provides students with National Apartment Association training for either the Certified Apartment Maintenance Technician or Certified Apartment Leasing Professional certifications, a paid 6-7 month hands-on internship at a local company, and one-on-one mentoring from a property management professional. Urban Alliance expects to double the number of youth served in the 2021-2022 school year, ultimately serving over 120 students in both greater DC and Chicago during this three-year pilot program.  

“It’s imperative to ensure that students are connected to the right pathway for them to be successful after high school, and to expose young people to economically-mobile career paths,” said Elizabeth Lindsey, CEO of Urban Alliance. “We are thrilled that so many companies agree and have stepped up to create an innovative new pathway to success while building a more equitable, diverse talent pipeline to the residential real estate industry.” 

“We at the PREA Foundation believe that the real estate community currently lacks established networks and know-how for finding and training young diverse youth to access careers in the industry,” said Ivan Barron, Executive Director of the PREA Foundation. “The Property Management Pathway offers an innovative approach for real estate companies to identify untapped pools of talent and to simultaneously further the important work of creating a more diverse and inclusive industry.” 

“The Diane & Norman Bernstein Foundation appreciates the opportunity to partner with Urban Alliance and Bernstein Management Corporation to launch the property management pathway,” said Kelly Lynch, Executive Director of the Diane & Norman Bernstein Foundation. “We are committed to investing in the youth of DC, especially those whose access and opportunities have been limited by the constructs of structural racism. We believe this program effectively identifies students, provides an infrastructure for learning valuable workplace skills and connects high school students to meaningful opportunities with businesses in their community; in my view, a win for all.” 

Although 80% of Urban Alliance youth typically enroll in college after high school, a growing share of students are opting to pursue full- or part-time work after graduation to support themselves and their families, securing employment at companies such as Bank of America, Bedrock Detroit, and Quicken Loans, among many others. With the pandemic’s healthcare and economic impact continuing to disproportionately affect communities of color, this trend is expected to increase.  

Meanwhile, as the home became both a living and working space for millions of Americans during the pandemic, the residential real estate industry solidified its position as an $88 billion-in-revenue, high-growth industry that offers stable career ladders with low barriers to entry. Yet many companies struggle to recruit and retain qualified diverse talent; according to a recent analysis, companies experience an almost 35% average turnover rate in entry-level leasing and maintenance roles. 

99% of Urban Alliance students are youth of color from low-income communities, and 80% of Urban Alliance students contribute a portion of their paycheck toward household expenses, serving as vital sources of income for their families. The COVID-19 pandemic has also disproportionately affected youth of color, with unemployment and disconnection rates far exceeding any other age group. Research has shown that early, paid work experience and well-designed workforce development is correlated with higher wagesfaster job attainmenthigher-quality jobs, and racial equity. With 25 years of experience in youth workforce development, Urban Alliance has a long track record of success. 100% of Urban Alliance students graduate from high school and 80% remain connected to a pathway toward economic self-sufficiency.