In an effort to foster greater diversity and inclusion in the commercial real estate industry, NAIOP Colorado partnered with Denver Public Schools CareerConnect for a summer internship program. This new program was designed to provide enrichment opportunities for students from diverse backgrounds and introduce them to a possible future career path.
When COVID-19 hit and the program was in jeopardy, NAIOP Colorado President Tim Schlichting was determined not to abandon the kids enrolled in the program and began making plans to conduct the internships remotely.
At United Properties – Denver, Kevin Kelley, a former NAIOP Colorado president, was onboard and agreed that United Properties would participate as one of three CRE companies. United Properties mentored two interns out of the 10-15 high school students who participated.
“Students sat in on meetings, met with African American CRE leaders, and had the opportunity to learn more about what goes into urban planning,” Kelley commented.
The students were busy throughout the six-week program, which had two stages. First, the students developed and presented a career or business plan. In the second stage, they developed and presented a site proposal for a half-acre lot that is currently under development. Students learned about zoning and developed site use and marketing plans.
“The students were totally engaged and really enjoyed the experience,” said Kelley. “This gave them a greater sense of what CRE can do to transform a community.”
Kelley was proud that United Properties participated in the inaugural program and applauded NAIOP Colorado for making it happen despite the pandemic. “It’s our responsibility to the next generation to share our expertise so they’re aware of these career opportunities. We can overcome whatever challenges are thrown our way in order to keep moving forward.”
He added that the program was successful and is likely to continue, possibly at the college level through the University of Colorado or University of Denver, in addition to the high school program.