The mission of the USC Ross Minority Program in Real Estate is to enable members of minority groups and those that invest time, talent and financial resources in emerging communities to establish a foundation toward becoming leaders in real estate finance and development.
The USC Ross Minority Program in Real Estate (RMPIRE) is an intensive, comprehensive continuing education program designed to provide real estate practitioners, non-profit and community leaders, public sector decision makers, and entrepreneurs with skills and expertise to influence the redevelopment process in traditionally underserved communities. Since its inception, RMPIRE has trained over six-hundred participants who have played key roles in many significant commercial, mixed-use, and housing developments throughout the nation. The program is taught by well respected, diverse, and committed faculty. The coursework is highly relevant and up-to-date with current real estate market trends. Students leave the program equipped with the understanding of the real estate development process through hands-on experiential learning.
Designed to help build development capacity in minority communities, RMPIRE was officially launched in 1993 as the Summer Program in Real Estate; a two week in residence educational training program. In efforts to meet the ever-growing demand, in 2004 the program launched its winter program, a commuter program that occurs over series of four weekends on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. The expansion was made possible through a generous naming gift from USC Lusk Center Chairman Stan Ross and his wife Marilyn.
Today, RMPIRE has two iterations: winter and summer programs held on the USC campus. As the program has grown, the curriculum, which focuses on real estate finance and development, has also evolved to include sessions on public-private partnerships, the approval process, and market analysis.
Following the Los Angeles civil unrest in 1992, public and professional entities in the City of Los Angeles were faced with an unprecedented and immediate need for experienced real estate professionals to aid in the rebuilding of the inner city. While the Los Angeles Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) sought to involve minority and nonprofit developers in the economic revitalization of south central Los Angeles, the CRA found that many such professionals lacked specific knowledge and skill sets in real estate development and finance.
In response, Richard Benbow, then Deputy Administrator of the CRA, and Roy Willis, then Administrator at the CRA, organized community development leaders such as Linda King-Wright, Barbara Harris and others to advocate for a specialized program in real estate development and finance to help local community residents partake in the redevelopment of their communities. A Partnership was formed with the CRA and USC to create a continuing education program to provide training in the area of urban real estate development and finance to minority professionals.
Further, the conveners of that program recognized that real estate development was a key component to economic development and self-determination for underserved communities. The belief was that those interested in urban redevelopment and inner city revitalization should have the skills and support necessary to successfully participate in the development of their communities. In 2003, the program received a major gift from Stan and Marilyn Ross. In recognition of that gift, the program was titled "The Ross Minority Program in Real Estate Finance and Development."