NAIOP Colorado Launches Partnership with Project Destined to
Advance Diversity, Equity & Inclusion in Colorado Commercial Real Estate

CRE Firms Sponsor 15 Local High School Students in Summer 2022

Denver, Colo. (August 3, 2022) – NAIOP Colorado launched a paid summer internship for high school students in partnership with Project Destined. Project Destined, founded by Cedric Bobo, has partnered with leading real estate firms across the country to provide diverse students with internship opportunities to explore ownership through live real estate deals. Students gain access to the experience and expertise of corporate mentors and industry executives as they examine pathways to careers in the field. The program is a ten-week virtual internship which commenced in June for 15 underrepresented high school students from across the Denver metro area.

The program features training in real estate, digital marketing and provides an opportunity to collaborate with real estate professionals to prepare presentations as part of weekly team-based competitions. The program also included a “Shark Tank” style finale where intern teams presented a digital marketing plan for a live multifamily real estate deal to industry leaders.

Throughout the ten-weeks students learn the fundamentals of market research, value creation, and deal financing. Students emerge with the skills to secure internships and full-time job offers from some of the world’s largest real estate firms while becoming stakeholders in their community.

CJ Manning, Vice President at Prime West and the Chair of the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee at NAIOP Colorado, has led the way locally recruiting the best and brightest students from school districts across the Denver metropolitan area. Manning defines diversity as hiring for representation in a company, equity as giving all individuals equal access to opportunities, and inclusion as creating a sense of belonging for diverse talent to thrive.

Manning highlights the need for the commercial real estate industry to embrace a mindset shift away from soft diversity to hard diversity. “Soft diversity is hiring for representation to meet a quota or keep up with competitors. Whereas, hard diversity is hiring for inclusion and belonging, yielding a competitive advantage.”

“We are excited to expand our work and believe providing opportunities for future leaders early is key. Many of these students start with no prior real estate experience and to see what they were able to achieve in just ten-weeks is amazing. In partnership with Project Destined we’re developing a robust talent pipeline as we train the next generation of leaders and help them prepare for the workforce.” CJ Manning, Prime West.

Manning was ‘sold’ when Bobo invited him to serve as a judge for the Project Destined division finale and witnessed students presenting their sources and uses of capital required for their business, along with return metrics and sensitivity analysis.

“These are things we look at on a daily basis and it’s impressive to see young minds present this information with such poise and confidence,” he said.

Over 20 real estate firms sponsored the summer program, to include: Alcorn Construction; Baron Properties and Essex Financial Group; Brinkman Real Estate; Confluent Development; DPC Development; Evergreen Devco, Inc.; Fidelity National Title National Commercial Services; First American Title-NCS; Flywheel Capital; Golub & Company; Granite Properties; Hines; Hogan Lovells US LLP; Lincoln Property Company; Lowe; Mark IV Capital; McWhinney; Newmark; Pinnacle Real Estate Advisors; Prime West; United Properties; and Xcel Energy.

Jeff Dean, Senior Vice President with Mark IV Capital and Supporting Sponsor of the Project Destined program said, “Mark IV Capital was excited to play a role in helping expose top-tier, diverse Denver students to the industry through this hands-on “master class” format. Organizations are constantly seeking the best talent – and programs such as Project Destined help ensure the future holds more opportunities for both companies and candidates alike.”

Fellow Supporting Sponsor Michael Sapp, Manager of PSCo State Public Affairs with Xcel Energy, shared that "Xcel Energy is committed to reducing racial inequality as one of the most important things we can do to support the communities where we live, work and do businesses. We are honored to collaborate with the NAIOP Early Talent Program to cultivate inclusive, engaged and diverse future business leaders that reflects the communities we serve."

NAIOP Colorado Chapter will be partnering with Project Destined and area universities to host a similar program for undergraduate students this fall.

About NAIOP Colorado
The NAIOP Colorado Chapter provides advocacy, education, and business opportunities by connecting members in a powerful North American and Front Range network in the commercial real estate development and investment industry. We get business done. We create valuable, meaningful connections. We keep you current. We are a powerful voice. We actively advocate on your behalf at the local, state, and national levels to influence policies and regulations that affect our commercial real estate community.

About Project Destined.
Project Destined is a leading social impact platform that provides training in financial literacy, entrepreneurship, and real estate. Project Destined partners with corporations, schools, and nonprofits to deliver training using its proprietary e-learning platform and live courses. Project Destined leverages a work-based learning approach where students work with executives to evaluate live deals in their community and present them in a pitch competition to industry leaders. Scholars emerge with the skills, confidence, experiences, and networks that prepare them to secure a solid first job and to become stakeholders in their community. For more information, please visit projectdestined.com.

Press Contact: CJ Manning, NAIOP Colorado DEI Chair and Vice President, Development - Prime West Companies
Direct: 919-805-1387
Email: [email protected]


Added to NAIOP Website on March 29, 2022

The NAIOP Colorado chapter is proud to announce two exciting partnerships with community organizations in the Denver area: Northeast Denver Leadership Week and Project Destined.

In conjunction with Denver Councilman Christopher Herndon, NAIOP Colorado’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) committee is coordinating a half-day program in Commercial Real Estate for the Northeast Denver Leadership Week, in June 2022. This program “offers high school students from diverse backgrounds the opportunity to connect with civic and industry leaders throughout Denver. The program’s goal is to grow the next generation of leaders by educating students about careers in leadership and inspiring and motivating them to pursue such roles in their own careers." In support of this effort, the DEI Committee is currently seeking volunteers to host a construction site tour in the Northeast Denver area, as well as event volunteers to facilitate the programming. 

In complement to the Northeast Denver Leadership Week initiative, NAIOP Colorado announced that it will sponsor a local chapter of Project Destined. This unique program enlists top industry talent to mentor students in underserved communities and put them on track for internships or employment in the Commercial Real Estate industry. According to Project Destined, “we deliver our programming through the model: TRAIN, COMPETE, GROW. Students work with leading executives to evaluate live deals in their community and present them in a pitch competition.  Scholars emerge with the skills, confidence, experiences and networks that prepare them to secure a strong first job.” The local chapter of Project Destined will be funded in part by NAIOP Colorado and local CRE industry sponsors. In support of this effort, NAIOP Colorado will be seeking volunteers to serve as mentors, competition judges, panel speakers, host property tours, and conduct programming.

For more information on how to volunteer or sponsor either of these opportunities, please reach out to [email protected] for more information.