Ecommerce tech company Amazon has launched a multi-million dollar program to help real estate developers of color advance their careers in the industry.

Through the company’s more than $ 2 billion Amazon Housing Equity Fund, Amazon is investing $ 21 million to pilot the two-year accelerator program. The part-time professional program is offered free to residents of the Puget Sound, Wash., Arlington, Virginia, and Nashville, Tennessee area.

“With this accelerator program, we are laser-focused on the rise of emerging real estate developers of color. We want to foster their professional growth through education and training, as well as improve their access to capital, which can be difficult for color developers ”, noted Catherine Buell, Director of the Amazon Housing Equity Fund.

“If we are to make a lasting, holistic and meaningful change to the way affordable housing is developed, developers of color must be part of the solution,” she added.

Amazon reported that, according to a 2019 report, 5% of its US members are black and 82% are white; Blacks make up over 13% of the American population.

“Developers of color offer enormous opportunities for creative and inclusive solutions to community-driven real estate development, but systemic issues continue to create multiple barriers to their success,” said Ellis Carr, President and CEO of Capital Impact Partners and CDC Small Business Finance.

Amazon said it was trying to bridge the disparity by partnering with social impact and economic justice organizations to develop curriculum and networking opportunities at the local level.

The initial cohort of the program will consist of up to 30 participants in total, each of whom will receive virtual and in-person classroom instruction on real estate fundamentals, affordable housing trends, public policies and best practices. funding, as well as small group mentoring. Attendees will have professional networking opportunities with industry leaders, researchers and established real estate developers, the company said.

For the program to work, participants will have the means to bring this knowledge into the real world with access to capital for pre-development expenses, such as architectural and engineering costs; the costs of permits, surveys and site development; and market and feasibility studies.

“Through this program, we are working in partnership with Amazon to help open doors for people of color who can then share their experience with them,” Carr said.


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