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In Bid To Boost Diversity In CRE, Prologis Donates $3M To Morehouse For New Real Estate Institute

Morehouse College, an all-male, historically Black college in Downtown Atlanta.

The world’s largest industrial real estate investment trust is partnering with Morehouse College in Atlanta to spearhead the school’s first real estate degree program in an effort to shore up diversity in the industry.

Prologis donated $3M to Morehouse for an endowed fund to help launch the Morehouse Real Estate Institute inside the school’s Division of Business and Economics. The donation is an overt effort to encourage more Black students to pursue a career in the global real estate industry, which has remained predominantly white, according to a Morehouse press release.

The institute will not only be open to students at Morehouse, an all-male school with an enrollment of 2,300, but also to students attending the other historically Black colleges and universities that make up the Atlanta University Center: Spelman College and Clark Atlanta University. 

“This partnership with Prologis is an important step toward improving diversity in commercial real estate ownership and leadership,” Morehouse President David Thomas said in the release. “The Morehouse Real Estate Institute will become a talent pipeline that will prepare rising Morehouse Men and Atlanta University Center students to compete for top jobs as future real estate agents, brokers, executives, and entrepreneurs.”

Prologis Senior Vice President of Human Resources Nathaalie Carey said the donation to Morehouse is an effort to raise awareness among Black and minority students about careers in an industry that has largely escaped their attention. 

“There aren’t a ton of students out here who are waking up and saying, ‘I want to go into REITs.’ We’re not an industry that is forward-facing,” Carey told Bisnow in an interview Tuesday.

Less than 2% of C-suite executives in CRE and only 5% of commercial brokers are Black, Morehouse said, citing data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

While Carey said the lack of awareness of commercial real estate as a viable career wasn’t limited to minorities, Bisnow found in 2021 that very few HBCUs have degree programs in commercial real estate. As of last year, Bisnow also found that diversity efforts among CRE companies have made little headway since the industry began in earnest to address the issue in 2020.

Prologis plans to assist Morehouse in developing its academic program as well, Carey said. The REIT has been reaching out to raise awareness of the industry not only at the famed Atlanta HBCUs but also among various higher education institutions with large populations of minority and women students, she said. 

Ty Couey, president of the National Historically Black Colleges & Universities Alumni Associations Foundation, said he applauds Prologis’ efforts with Morehouse as a good way to encourage diversity in the corporate world, especially after the Supreme Court ruled this summer that affirmative action was unconstitutional.

“To eliminate race when reparations have not been dealt with appropriately, there’s something completely wrong and crazy with this country,” Couey said.

The decision is having an effect on corporate diversity initiatives, he said.

“I have seen a slowdown [in recruitment from] HBCUs from the private sector,” he said. “I saw this back in the '60s and '70s when African Americans were doing quite well in school … and then there was a slow cutback on affirmative action.”

Morehouse plans to officially launch the real estate program next year, Carey said. The program will train students on the fundamentals of real estate and teach strategies to invest in both commercial and residential real estate to build wealth, according to the press release.

“Our intent here is to increase the visibility and the appeal of the commercial real estate industry,” Carey said. “I believe that once the students see us as a viable place where not only they can have opportunities but they can thrive, we believe that they will absolutely be interested and want to be part of this amazing and phenomenal industry.”