The end of the school year and graduation season is a time for students, friends, and family to celebrate hard work and achievement, and to look toward the graduate’s next stage of life. This year, like the preceding two years, it’s hard not to think about the immense disruption students of all ages have faced due to the pandemic. Whether making new friends on the playground, playing team sports, or working face-to-face with fellow students or professors, students have missed out on many valuable experiences.
While vaccines have meant that schooling is generally returning to pre-pandemic patterns, supporting students and providing opportunities for success at all stages of their education is even more important today. Two stories in this issue highlight different ways in which the REIT industry is doing just that.
The first, in our DNA of ESG column, looks at a new pilot program aimed at advancing the pipeline of diverse professionals in the commercial real estate industry. Spearheaded by Nathaalie Carey, Nareit’s senior vice president of industry affairs, in conjunction with ULI and Fannie Mae’s Future Housing Leaders (FHL), Foundations: REITs and Commercial Real Estate Internship Program will allow students without traditional real estate academic backgrounds to gain the necessary training to undertake successful summer internships with leading REITs that hopefully leads them to pursuing a career in the industry.
As Carey points out, the original idea was that only students matched with REIT internships this summer would participate in the ULI course. However, given Nareit’s DEI strategic mission to increase the industry’s visibility and appeal to diverse individuals and businesses, it was decided to make the course open to a broader swathe of students. As a result, these students will be more marketable, and hopefully a step closer toward reaching their career goals.
Meanwhile, our Shaping Communities column showcases American Campus Communities, Inc. (NYSE: ACC), a REIT that for decades has been creating living environments that let students thrive socially, while providing all the amenities to help them achieve academic success.
ACC is taking this approach in its new development, Flamingo Crossings Village. Built for participants in the Disney College Program (DCP), it will allow students in the internship program to enjoy easy access to Disney World, and the opportunity to feel integrated into the DCP community. Importantly, ACC also sees the Flamingo Crossings Village serving as a model for affordable workforce accommodation—a much-needed option for employees these days.
Finally, this issue coincides with Nareit’s first in-person REITweek and Investor Relations Symposium since the start of the pandemic. Our roundtable feature with IR executives looks at many of the issues that will certainly be on the minds of attendees at both these investor-focused events.