Washington Post: New program teaches D.C.-area students skills for careers in property management

New program teaches D.C.-area students skills for careers in property management

By Michele Lerner, Washington Post
Published: June, 23 2021

While high school students in the D.C. area can attend one of several schools to learn construction, electrical, plumbing, engineering and architectural skills, a new program from Urban Alliance, a national youth workforce development organization, and the Pension Real Estate Association (PREA) Foundation, will add property management to the list of available real estate-related career programs.

The Property Management Pathway program, launched in the 2020-2021 school year with approximately 30 seniors from the D.C., Prince George’s County and Alexandria City school systems, connects high school students in the greater Washington region with paid 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.

The goal of the program is to introduce youths from communities of color to upwardly mobile real estate careers and increase diversity within the real estate industry. The program provides students with National Apartment Association training for either the Certified Apartment Maintenance Technician or Certified Apartment Leasing Professional certifications, a paid six-to-seven-month internship at a local company and one-on-one mentoring from a property management professional.

In addition to support from the PREA Foundation and the Diane & Norman Bernstein Foundation, 17 companies in the region signed on to host interns: AKA, Bell Partners, Bernstein Management, Bonaventure, Bozzuto, Fairfield Residential, Flock DC, Gables Residential, Gates Hudson, Greystar, Horning Brothers, JBG Smith, LCOR, Penzance, Somerset Development, Van Metre Companies and the Washington Housing Conservancy.

“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,” Elizabeth Lindsey, the chief executive of Urban Alliance, said in a statement. “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.”

Urban Alliance anticipates doubling the number of youth participants in the 2021-2022 school year, ultimately serving over 120 students in both greater D.C. and Chicago during this three-year pilot program.

The residential real estate industry is an $88 billion-in-revenue, high-growth industry that offers stable career ladders with low barriers to entry, according to Urban Alliance. Yet many companies struggle to recruit and retain qualified diverse talent. According to a recent analysis, companies experience an almost 35 percent average turnover rate in entry-level leasing and maintenance roles, according to the National Apartment Association.

“We are committed to investing in the youth of D.C., 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,” Kelly Lynch, executive director of the Diane & Norman Bernstein Foundation, said in a statement.

More information about the program is available here.