Diversity in Real Estate

The Marquette University Center for Real Estate has a proud tradition of supporting diversity efforts in the commercial real estate industry, with a sub-goal of helping to impact disinvested communities through real estate development.


ACRE Program (Associates in Commercial Real Estate)

Events Promoting Diversity

Real Estate Exchange (REEX) Summer Program

Student Resources and Partnerships

ACRE Program (Associates in Commercial Real Estate)

ACRE class

ACRE classroomThe ACRE Program is a 9-month professional training program with the goal of expanding and supporting minority representation in the commercial real estate industry. Founded at Marquette University in 2004 by Dr. Mark Eppli, the program has graduated between 20 and 30 men and women of color each class, giving them the skills and knowledge to manage, invest in, and even develop real estate assets.

ACRE is highly structured and includes a level of rigor equivalent of two graduate level classes in a university setting. Students meet weekly during three-hour class periods and complete several assignments, three major exams, and a final course project that includes a development proposal for an actual site in the region, delivered in a public setting and judged by seasoned real estate professionals. Acceptance rates for students are low, and applicants are required to go through an extensive process, including a written application and essay, an entrance exam with quantitative and qualitative assessment methods, and in-person interviews with professionals and ACRE alumni.

ACRE classroomThe ACRE curriculum in structured to maximize practical application of real estate concepts, including a special focus on financial concepts including the financial analysis and value drivers for real estate as investments. This is augmented by exposure to key elements of the development process, including the major parties involved in developments, as well as concepts around urban planning and design forces that act on the commercial real estate space. Guest speakers and site tours are common and provide deeper insight and networking opportunities for students.

ACRE is now administered by LISC Milwaukee, and led by a trio of educational partners, including Marquette University, the Milwaukee School of Engineering, and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee School of Architecture and Urban Planning (SARUP).

ACRE logosGraduates of ACRE have gone on to develop, manage, and invest in thousands of units of residential housing and hundreds of thousands of square feet of commercial space throughout southeast Wisconsin. Past students have also become significant leaders in the region, including: Commissioner for the Milwaukee Department of City Development, CEO and Executive Director of the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority, three elected members of the Milwaukee Common Council, and several Business Improvement District and non-profit executive directors.

The program is offered every other year and admission is highly competitive. Anyone considering applying should contact LISC Milwaukee and fill out the interest form on the LISC Milwaukee website.

Special thanks to LISC Milwaukee for their tireless work to promote ACRE, the Bader Foundation for their initial program financial support to help launch ACRE in 2004, and the ongoing and significant financial and mentoring support of Barry Mandel and Mandel Group.

Events Promoting Diversity

2019 Commercial Real Estate and Development Conference

Biz Times panelists

The Center for Real Estate is proud to partner with the Milwaukee BizTimes annually on their Commercial Real Estate and Development conference. In 2019, the event included a panel discussion on the opportunities for economic growth in metro Milwaukee, as well as the significant challenges facing the region – especially in disinvested neighborhoods – and what the real estate industry can do to expand opportunity for all residents, not just those in wealthy areas.

More information and a recording of the panel can be found here.


2020 Real Estate Strategies Conference: Diversity in Real Estate Panel


Part 2 of the 2020 Marquette Real Estate Strategies Conference Series took place on Thursday, October 8, 2020 and featured an exciting group of leaders in the real estate industry as they discussed diversity in real estate, success stories, and strategies for company leaders. The panel was moderated by Kevin Newell, President and CEO of Royal Capital Group.

A recording of the full discussion as well as a summary of key points can be found on the conference recap page.


2021 ACRE Graduation Ceremony

ACRE graduating class

The ACRE 2020-2021 cohort graduation took place on Wednesday, May 12, celebrating the 21 men and women to successfully complete the program. Several significant guest speakers joined the event, including a keynote from Ben Stevens, author of “The Birth of a Building,” which was used as the course textbook. Additional speeches included Keith Turner, valedictorian of the graduating class, and Lafayette Crump, Commissioner of the Department of City Development with the City of Milwaukee (and an ACRE alumni).

A recording of the graduation ceremony can be found here.

Real Estate Exchange (REEX) Summer Program

In partnership with the Real Estate Executive Council (REEC), the leading professional trade association formed to promote the interests of minority executives doing business in the commercial real estate industry, and NAIOP Wisconsin, the premier network of commercial real estate professionals in Wisconsin and across the United States

REEX is a virtual, two-week program for rising high school juniors and seniors, dedicated to helping students of color take charge of their future and provide knowledge about career opportunities in commercial real estate. Students learn what is takes to design, build, manage, own and sell commercial real estate and pursue career paths in the field. Coursework is taught in combination between professors at Marquette University and leaders in the regional commercial real estate industry.

REEX infographic

Marquette joins several other prestigious university nationally to offer REEX, including: Cornell University, MIT, NYU, University of Miami, Roosevelt University, SMU, Howard University, and Harvard University.

More information about these programs and partners can be found at the following links:

Marquette & NAIOP Wisconsin program

Real Estate Exchange (REEX) Program

Real Estate Executive Council (REEC)

Student Resources and Partnerships

Marquette University joins many organizations both locally and nationally in providing additional support to men and women of color, as well as supporting women in the real estate industry. The following links including more information about several programs for prospective, current, and post-graduate students:


Commercial Real Estate-focused Scholarship and Support Opportunities


Other Scholarship Opportunities