Philadelphia Program Celebrates 15 Graduate Real Estate Developers of Color

Philadelphia Program Celebrates 15 Graduate Real Estate Developers of Color

These Black professionals are on a mission to diversify the real estate industry.

Over a dozen BIPOC men and women real estate developers from across 12 companies celebrated the completion of the first phase of the Black Squirrel collective’s Philly RiSE program training.

According to The Philadelphia Inquirer, Black Squirrel, a group of Black business leaders, created the initiative to train self-taught developers of color in Philadelphia.

With a focus on developers who already had experience in the industry through renovation or building, the collective structured the program as a support base for development projects.

Participants “are experienced developers, but they’re missing a couple of things,” said partner Jim Burnett, executive director of the Philadelphia-based community development financial institution VestedIn.

“They don’t have the networks that some white developers might have. They don’t have the capital. They haven’t been exposed to the process of getting properties out of the city’s inventory. …We wanted to design something that would provide those things,” he added.

“Trust me, they’re gonna make a difference in this city,” Kevin Williams, business development consultant and CEO of Black Squirrel, said at a party for the graduates.

Focal points have been placed on each participant producing up to 50 new residential housing units in the city, with over half offered under market rate. Additionally, each of the 12 companies, led by 10 Black developers, two Asian leads, and three run by women, will be required to put forth $75,000 that will be added to additional funding through program connections.

The Black Squirrel collective’s leadership team includes Burnett, Williams, business and investment adviser Thomas Webster, and West Philadelphia Corridor Collaborative President Jabari Jones.

The initiative seeks to add more developers for a new cohort planned for next fall, with help from Maleda Berhane, CEO and co-founder of the development company AR Spruce.

The group’s mission is to run Philly RiSE for at least four more years.