Free program helps introduce high school students to a career path in commercial real estate

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An Edmonton-based program that helps introduce racialized high school students to the world of commercial real estate has expanded its reach to Calgary. 

Andrel Wisdom, co-founder of the REET Institute, says his goal is to create more diversity in commercial real estate spaces, so he’s helping lead a program to connect students with mentors and education.

“What we try to do is create this program that gives an immersive experience into commercial real estate so that people can, from a young age, have an opportunity to plan and strategically get themselves involved in the space,” Wisdom said in an interview with CBC Radio program, The Calgary Eyeopener.

Wisdom says the program opens the doors for young people to “intentionally find the space,” introducing them to new career avenues they haven’t explored before.

“I think the story for a lot of commercial real estate professionals is that they end up just falling into the industry.”

The REET Institute says the free, eight-week program specializes in “introducing BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Colour) high school students in Edmonton and Calgary to commercial real estate.”

Participants will attend both virtual and in-person classes and workshops, plus network with professionals in the field.

And there’s also an opportunity for students to compete for prizes. Upon completing the course, students will get a chance to present commercial real estate pitches to a panel of industry experts to showcase what they’ve learned.


LISTEN | How a free course is helping high schoolers explore the business world: 

Calgary Eyeopener8:30The REET Institute


The REET Institute launched its first iteration of the program just over two years ago in Edmonton. The program has now expanded, and saw its third cohort of Calgary students over the weekend.

Yorgi Ingabire is a Grade 12 student from Edmonton who recently participated in the program.

“I’ve always known I wanted to go into business, but I was never sure exactly what area of business I was going [to go] into,” said Ingabire. “Once I did the REET Institute, I was like, ‘OK, real estate might be a good opportunity.'”

He’ll be graduating this year, and plans on heading into a post-secondary business program with a few other friends who have also taken the REET Institute’s two-month course.

A close-up photo of a boy with dreadlocks.
Yorgi Ingabire, a Grade 12 student who recently participated in the REET Institute, says he now has plans to pursue a career in business. (Kyle Lisk)

Ingabire added that students also got the opportunity to learn more about the financial components of real estate.

“We talked to a banker and he was like, ‘This is how much of a loan I can give you, you need this much money,'” he said. “It became more real, and that made it so much more fun.”

‘What we set out to achieve’

For Wisdom and his co-founders, it’s “surreal” to watch students evolve.

“It’s really an incredible feeling,” he said.

“When we’re going to a lot of these events and we’re seeing them actively participate in the industry outside of the eight-week program that we had built for them. It is just … what we set out to achieve.”

It’s an experience Wisdom says he wishes he could have accessed as a teen.

“It’s a bit of a tearjerker as we kind of see them progress. It’s so cool for us to just root for them and continue to try and support them however we can.”

And for Ingabire, the program stands out because it wasn’t stressful or intimidating.

“It felt like you were talking to your friend. They can teach you stuff, and it just feels natural,” he said.

So what’s next for the program?

Making even more room for growth and expansion, according to Wisdom.

Wisdom and his REET Institute team members are hoping to offer the program in “more remote locations” for the high school students who can’t make it to Alberta’s largest cities.

“We’ve been getting interest … about bringing this program to different parts of the country,” he said.

“We’re actively looking at how can we do that in a way that is it’s sustainable, but also in a way that will continue to maintain the quality.”


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