By Francis Greenburger,
chairman & CEO, Time Equities
Real estate executives often leave behind impressive legacies in the form of grand structures that give shape to a city’s skyline and stand for decades on end.
And we ourselves are fortunate — because as we build these structures, and as we set about populating them with residents, workers and shoppers — we are also building our own careers and enjoying the material benefits deriving from our projects.
That’s why it is comforting to realize that many C-level real estate executives you know, and read about in these pages, look beyond his or her narrow self-interest — and devote a portion of their time and energy to community building and not-for-profit endeavors.
While there’s no shortage of worthy causes, I think efforts to support education especially align with the ethos of the real estate industry.
Building the city of tomorrow and creating stronger communities is as much about investing in people as it is about constructing buildings. And investing in young people is the best way to invest in the future of our city.
For the last 10-plus years, I have had the privilege of working with an organization called New York Edge, which is one of the largest providers of afterschool programs in the metropolitan region.
Working in co-operation with the New York City Department of Education, the organization partners with under-resourced public schools across the region, serving more than 36,000 students in grades K-12. New York Edge provides afterschool programming that combine sports, the arts, and academic enrichment and mentoring. We also help upper-grade students position themselves for future success in both conventional and technical colleges.
And while my real estate company develops properties across all key asset classes, one can readily see how our multi-family portfolio can resonate with our work with New York Edge.
That’s because we often find ourselves delivering enrichment services to young people residing in or near the communities where are properties are located.
It’s a source of gratification for our development and property management teams when New York Edge helps these youthful residents enter college and expand their life horizons. The students’ families appreciate it. They make the connection.
The organization itself is structured in a way that directly promotes leadership skills. While New York Edge is overseen by a typical board of directors, there is also a “junior board” that brings young people themselves into the organization in a serious and active way.
Best of all, New York Edge succeeds. Participants in our “High School Today, College Tomorrow” initiative have attained a 98 percent, four-year completion rate — compared with the 61 percent citywide rate. Ninety percent of these student’s earn college admission.
At the middle school level, students in the “Middle School Today, High School Tomorrow” program are 33 percent more likely to gain entry into a specialized high school than those not benefiting from our help.
And 86 percent of parents we surveyed report that New York Edge has helped their children learn things that have contributed to their academic success.
Many of the youth served by New York Edge live in poverty, which exposes them to various forms of trauma, and plants any number of obstacles along their path to achievement. Organizations like New York Edge help prepare students to overcome these hurdles and to advance toward a happy and fulfilling adulthood.
I think it reflects well on the real estate community to be supporting such programs — and to be building a spirit of hope and confidence among our city’s young people.
In fact, though less visible, I’d say it’s a legacy greater in value than shaping the city’s skyline.
Francis J. Greenburger is a member of New York Edge’s Board of Directors