Urban Land Institute Program Introduces Students to Real Estate Careers



Kiara Kabbara had never heard of a landscape architect until she met one.

After learning how Klyde Warren Park has transformed that part of downtown Dallas, the Lincoln High School 10th-grader is now thinking designing green spaces could be the job for her future.

”I’m all about volunteering and helping people. So, [the park] made it safer for the community [and] that really stood out to me,” Kabbara said.

Introducing high school students to the various career opportunities available in commercial real estate, is the main premise for Building Industry Leaders, an after school program that partners the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Dallas and volunteers from the Urban Land Institute North Texas.

“When they hear real estate they think it’s just selling houses, but it’s really not.” -Cherri Rowe

“When they hear real estate they think it’s just selling houses, but it’s really not,” said Cherri Rowe, area director of operations and traditional clubs for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Dallas.

Through the span of a school year, students in the BIL program learn about all aspects of real estate from construction and engineering to finance and architecture.

Josh Goad, a senior project engineer at The Beck Group and volunteer chair for ULI’s Young Leaders Group, piloted BIL in the 2014-2015 school year with 20 participants. The program has the same number this school year with students coming from Boys & Girls Club sites in Grand Prairie, Oak Cliff as well as Lincoln and Madison high schools.

In the fall, students take monthly site visits to meet professionals in the field. During the spring, they assemble into teams to apply what they’ve learned toward a real-world project in bi-weekly sessions.

On Tuesday night, students gave final presentations for this year’s challenge to develop a design plan for a Boys & Girls Clubs vocational building.

“Seeing their excitement and their commitment to the program and them presenting on the subject knowledge they’ve learned throughout the year — it’s been very exciting [and] very fulfilling,” Goad said.

The Boys & Girls Clubs hope to construct the vocational building one day near its current facility in Oak Cliff.

“Right now it’s kind of a dream, but it’s a real possibility that they can get it done,” said Renaldo Cordova, vice president of operations for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Dallas.

Two teams will earn scholarships, with the winning design being awarded $5,000 to split among its members. A second team will be awarded a $1,500 scholarship. A $1,000 scholarship will also be given to the individual who has shown the most drive and passion for learning throughout the program, Goad said.

Rowe said BIL matches up with the Boys & Girls Clubs’ existing career-ready offerings.

“We try to offer programs and activities where they can learn while they’re still in high school and be prepared to enter the workforce upon graduation,” she said.

Goad said one of last year’s participants is attending an architecture school and a few others have expressed possible interest in real estate careers.

He doesn’t expect all students will pursue careers in real estate. Still, educating them about various opportunities could help them elsewhere in life, he said.

“These are skills they can take with them the rest of their lives — even if they don’t choose these professions.” -Josh Goad

“These are skills they can take with them the rest of their lives — even if they don’t choose these professions,” Goad said.

Dayjus Hill, a 10th-grader at Lincoln High, already has settled on becoming a chef, but working on the BIL project has shown her she can have creativity beyond the kitchen.

“I’ve never built anything before or had any type of experience with what they taught us,” Hill said.

Goad said the program has been recognized nationally through the Boys & Girls Clubs of America and the ULI.

Next year, he plans to expand the program to Austin and possibly more cities in the future.

“The biggest thing is we do want to expand this and we want to do it right, so this summer we really want to nail down our five-year plan to make sure we really learn how to do it well here,” he said.

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