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University of San Diego Real Estate Awareness and Diversity Initiative (READI) Program Teams Up with Project Next to Improve Representation the Real Estate Industry

Post Date:05/31/2024 11:15 AM

3x1 banner Project Next

Submitted by Lisa Stout, Executive Director, Project Next


Leveraging partnerships within education opens the doors of opportunity for students. Project Next is proud to partner with several organizations and agencies to bring experiences to students that help build clarity, confidence, and connections, and help them learn about paths to success that fit them best.

One special partnership is with the University of San Diego Burnham-Moores Center for Real Estate. This collaboration aims to foster diversity and inclusion within the real estate industry through their Real Estate Awareness and Diversity Initiative (READI). The program is pioneering efforts to introduce historically underserved students to the vast array of career possibilities within commercial real estate.

“Most high school students, and likely their parents, would not think of real estate as a career path,” says Joe Bertocchini, Senior Manager of Student, Industry and Alumni Development at University of San Diego Knauss School of Business. “Our mission is to change that perception by offering students a comprehensive understanding of the diverse career opportunities available in real estate.”

Recognizing the lack of representation of diverse communities in the industry, READI seeks to bridge this gap by providing exposure and opportunity to high school students from underserved communities.

Through strategic partnerships with local companies specializing in various facets of real estate, including development, finance and banking, property and asset management, architecture, and more, READI aims to broaden students’ horizons and inspire them to consider real estate as a viable and rewarding career option.

“Our partnership with Project Next represents a significant step towards creating a more inclusive talent pipeline within the commercial real estate industry,” Bertocchini. “By providing historically underserved students with access to meaningful opportunities and resources, we are not only diversifying the industry but also empowering the next generation of real estate leaders.”

Through immersive experiences, mentorship opportunities, and hands-on learning opportunities, students enrolled in READI's partnership with Project Next are not only discovering their potential within the real estate sector but are also challenging existing barriers and stereotypes.

“It is amazing to witness the growth in the students’ confidence each visit”, says Sara Montooth, Programs Director for Project Next. “Because of Project Next’s programs like READI, students are able to make meaningful connections with professionals, while also learning about various work cultures. It’s an opportunity for students to envision themselves in these positions at different companies and that information is so valuable when making career decisions.”

Project Next’s READI program served 25 sophomores and juniors this year from Mission Hills High School in the San Marcos Unified School District., with 64% of students from historically disadvantaged backgrounds and 56% of students first generation. 

The program visited 8 different companies representing various specialties within the commercial real estate industry, learning about each company’s structure and what they do. Students were then able to have more intimate and focused conversations with all of the employees to learn about their specific role within the company.

“This program made a big impact on my life because I got to learn so much about real estate and further my knowledge,” said Adela Sanchez, a junior at Mission Hills High School who participated in the Fall cohort. “This program has brought many more opportunities to me and opened doors for me and allowed me to further expand my knowledge even after finishing the program. I now have the chance to attend more meaningful events and learn from them BECAUSE of this program and what it taught me. I built connections along the way, it was very worth it.”


Other participants shared:

“The program exceeded my expectations because I got to learn more about different careers and build connections with professionals. I was surprised to discover that I have the ability to interact with and carry out meaningful conversations with professionals and network effectively.”

“The most helpful activity was going over questions to ask to professionals and learning how to speak with confidence.”


Project Next plans to expand the READI program to additional schools and replicate the program’s model for other industries in the future.  If you are interested in getting involved with Project Next, please contact Sara Montooth at


Read more about Project Next in this story from April 2024
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