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Commercial real estate firms join to recruit black student-athletes

Cedric Bobo discusses a new program for black student-athletes to transition into the commercial real estate market.

Diana Olick | CNBC

When Darius Livingston graduated from UC Davis two years ago, he knew his football career was over. Like most of his former teammates—and most college athletes—he wasn’t a pro.

Instead, Livingston went into commercial real estate, thanks to lessons he learned from a paid internship program that teaches young students the basics of finance, with a special focus on real estate investing.

The program, Project Destined, is a nonprofit organization founded by Cedric Bobo, former director of The Carlyle Group.

Bobo made a name for himself in the real estate investment business and then decided to pay it in advance. The funding program was launched in 2016 mainly for high school students. He then expanded it to colleges, seeing the opportunity for both internships and jobs before and after graduation.

Keen to diversify their workforce, some of the largest real estate development, finance, and management companies have signed on to fund internships and student mentors. It includes names like Boston propertiesgraystar, brookfield, CBREAnd Residential propertyFifth wall JLLand Skanska, Vornado, and Walker & Dunlop.

The program has trained more than 5,000 participants from more than 350 universities around the world and has partnered with more than 250 real estate companies.

And now, he directs some of his efforts specifically toward black student-athletes.

After a recent pilot program with student-athletes from UC Davis, Bobo announced a partnership with Black Student-Athlete Summit, a professional and academic advocacy organization, to offer paid virtual internships to 100 student-athletes from nine Division I schools. . Includes 25 hours of training.

According to a statement announcing the partnership, “Program participants will also join CEOs to evaluate real-time commercial real estate transactions in their community and compete in presentation competitions for top industry leaders.” “Training includes scholarship and networking opportunities.”

Livingston went through the UC Davis pilot his last semester of college, then took an internship with Eastdale and Eden Housing. He is now a Partner in Acquisitions and Development of Catalyst Housing Group, a California-based real estate developer and financial backer of the new partnership.

“I think, for me, it was really the realization that maybe I wasn’t going to be a favorite in the first round, and that’s a good thing,” Livingston explained. “He’s really exposed to other opportunities. That’s why I’m so fortunate to have the Distend Project come along and introduce me to the commercial real estate industry and the mindset I deserve to be an owner in the communities I live in.”

This property right has always been Bobo’s motto and was the core of his pitch when he announced the new arm of his program to hundreds of students at the USC Black Student-Athlete Summit. He wants them to understand that they can make a difference in their neighborhoods by owning and managing real estate. Most importantly, he wants them to know that ownership is possible.

“Our show isn’t just about how you all see it,” Bobo said of the real estate executives who attended the announcement. “This is how you see yourselves.”

While the graduation rate for black student-athletes is slowly improving, many students who were overwhelmed with resources at school find themselves struggling once they finish their athletic endeavors and join the workforce.

“A lot of these kids might think they’re a first-round draft pick, and that’s a percentage of a percentage of a percentage, so be real with yourself and know that you’re worth a lot more than they’re simply exposed to, and that’s just a sport,” Livingston said.

Financial support for the program comes from real estate companies including BGO, Brookfield, Catalyst Housing Group, Dune Real Estate Partners, Jemcor Development Partners, Landspire Group, Marcus & Millichap, Virtu Investments, The Vistria Group, and others.

“Expanding this platform is a natural evolution of this team effort and will provide tangible pathways for thousands of black student-athletes to pursue future careers in commercial real estate,” said Jordan Moss, also a former UCLA student-athlete. Davis, founder and CEO of Catalyst.

Project Destined also works with the NBA and WNBA to give professional athletes more options after completing their sports careers.

Livingston said he believes athletes make the best employees.

“We play to win,” he explained. “It’s the competitive nature. We want to maximize our chances.”



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