Education for the Next Generation of Leaders

The future of our cities depends upon future generations of real estate leaders. One of the Institute’s signature programs, UrbanPlan, was created by ULI members who saw the need to provide education that influenced the way these future leaders understand responsible land use.

No other program matches UrbanPlan in reach or leadership; students, both private and public sector, gain hands-on skills and knowledge to intelligently and thoughtfully tackle land use challenges, taking into account the issues, stakeholder roles, tradeoffs, and economics involved. ULI Foundation Governor Ron Nahas was one of UrbanPlan’s cofounders, along with fellow Governors Doug Abbey and Steve Chamberlin.

Nahas, who also serves as a ULI/San Francisco UrbanPlan volunteer, has continued to be a champion and major supporter of the program throughout its duration. “There is nothing more enjoyable for me than spending time in the classroom with an engaged team of students working through the conflicting priorities we face every day as real estate professionals.”

According to Nahas, despite the success and value of the program, its growth has been constrained by an undersupply of resources. In 2017, he pledged a matching gift of $300,000 to expand the program, update and enrich the curriculum, expand the reach to public-sector officials, and build staff capacity for program delivery and assessment. “Our challenge today is to expand the program to more schools and public forums and be sure the support is in place to adapt and sustain it while zealously protecting the quality of the outcomes.”

ULI rose to this challenge. Nahas’s pledge, which was contingent upon matched funding from other Institute members and ULI Foundation support, has now been fulfilled. The program’s success and growth potential attracted support from additional donors and foundations, and this growth in investment ensures that UrbanPlan will reach an ever-increasing number of students and communities.

  • “My hope in making this contribution is to build the sustainable infrastructure that we need to grow the program, to make it more useful and to evolve it in a way that it becomes easier for more and more people to take advantage of it.”

    – Ron Nahas, ULI Foundation Governor

“I am thrilled to be in a position to help provide that support, and I am very grateful to all of the other ULI members who have joined me by making generous commitments to help grow and sustain UrbanPlan,” said Nahas.

In FY 2019, UrbanPlan expanded to a record number of district councils, a 47 percent increase, which held 34 workshops for public officials/communities. The program was delivered to 3,686 high school and university students in 160 classrooms. Twenty-three new teachers and professors and 625 new volunteers were trained this year. Since its founding in 2003, UrbanPlan has leveraged the time and talent of more than 2,600 member-volunteers to engage more than 52,000 students.

“There is a willingness to embrace this program at the national level, which is critical to its long-term success,” said Nahas. “Students who participate are better informed citizens, public officials better understand that good outcomes result from good partnerships, and ULI members who volunteer come away more optimistic about the future of our industry.”

To find out more about how you can support UrbanPlan or other ULI programs and initiatives, please visit the ULI Foundation website.


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