Business actual property firms be part of forces to recruit black scholar athletes
Cedric Bobo discusses a new program for black student athletes to break into the commercial real estate market.
Diana Olick | CNBC
When Darius Livingston graduated from the University of California, Davis two years ago, he knew his football career was over. Like most of his former teammates — and the majority of collegiate athletes — he didn’t turn pro.
Instead, Livingston turned to commercial real estate thanks to lessons learned from a paid internship program that teaches young black students the fundamentals of finance, with a particular focus on real estate investing.
The Project Destined program is a social impact platform founded by former Carlyle Group director Cedric Bobo.
Bobo made his name with real estate investments and then decided to develop it further. He started the finance program in 2016 primarily for high school students. He then expanded it to colleges as he saw the opportunity to do both internships and jobs before and after graduation.
Some of the largest real estate development, finance and administration firms are looking to diversify their workforces and have committed to fund the internships and mentor the students. This includes names like Boston PropertiesGreystar, Brookfield, CBRE, Equity Residentialfifth wall, JLLSkanska, Vornado and Walker & Dunlop.
The program has trained more than 5,000 participants from over 350 universities worldwide and worked with over 250 real estate companies.
And now it’s directing some of its efforts specifically toward black student-athletes.
After recently conducting a pilot program with UC Davis student-athletes, Bobo announced a partnership with the Black Student-Athlete Summit, a professional and academic support organization, to offer paid, virtual internships to 100 student-athletes from nine Division I schools. It includes 25 hours of training.
“Participants in the program will also partner with executives to evaluate real-time commercial real estate transactions in their community and participate in pitch competitions with top-level industry leaders,” according to a press release announcing the partnership. “The internship includes opportunities for scholarships and networking.”
Livingston completed the UC Davis pilot program during his final semester of college and then did internships at Eastdil and Eden Housing. Today he is an acquisitions and development associate at Catalyst Housing Group, a California-based real estate development company, and a financial backer of the new partnership.
“I think for me it was really the realization that I probably won’t be a first-round draft pick, and that’s okay,” Livingston said. “It’s really about being exposed to other opportunities. That’s why I’m so blessed to have Project Destined on board and introducing me to the commercial real estate industry and the attitude that I deserve to be an owner in the communities where I live.”
That ownership has long been Bobo’s mantra and the core of his pitch when he announced the new branch of his program to hundreds of students at the Black Student-Athletes Summit at USC. He wants them to understand that by owning and managing real estate, they can make a difference in their own neighborhoods. More importantly, they know ownership is possible.
“Our program isn’t just about how we all see you,” Bobo said of the property executives who were present at the announcement. “That’s how you see yourself.”
As Black athlete graduation rates slowly improve, many students who were overwhelmed with resources in school are finding it difficult to complete their athletic endeavors and enter the workforce.
“A lot of these kids might think they’re a first-round draft pick, and that’s one percent of one percent of one percent of one percent. So it’s really about being honest with yourself and knowing that you deserve a lot more than you get.” “We’re just exposed to it, and that’s sport,” said Livingston.
Financial support for the program comes from real estate firms including BGO, Brookfield, Catalyst Housing Group, Dune Real Estate Partners, Jemcor Development Partners, Landspire Group, Marcus & Millichap, Virtu Investments and The Vistria Group.
“The expansion of this platform is a natural evolution of this collaborative effort and will provide thousands of black student-athletes concrete avenues to pursue future careers in commercial real estate,” said Jordan Moss, who is also a former student-athlete at UC Davis and the founder and CEO of catalyst.
Project Destined also works with the NBA and WNBA to give professional athletes more options after their athletic careers are complete.
Livingston said he believes athletes are the best employees.
“We play to win,” he explained. “It’s the competition. We want to make the most of our opportunities.”