- Candace Carlisle, Dallas Business Journal

The Real Estate Council Foundation is changing up the way it’s funding projects throughout Dallas’ underserved communities to put together a $1 million grant program, called The Dallas Catalyst Project, to maximize the industry group’s efforts.

By putting all of the council’s funds in one program, TREC President and CEO Linda McMahon said she expects the real estate group will be able to help address its community development efforts with the City of Dallas and will help make a significant impact on improving neighborhoods.

“We wanted to make a longer-term commitment to a specific geographic area that will support our organization,” McMahon said. “We are constantly having the conversation, ‘What is the next big thing?’ and Klyde Warren Park comes along only once in a lifetime.”

The Real Estate Council Foundation was a major contributor to the development of Klyde Warren Park over Woodall Rodgers Freeway, which has connected Uptown and downtown Dallas. The park has also significantly increased property values of park-side real estate.

This time, the industry group is expected to help fund community development initiatives within the city over a three-year timeframe. The selected project, or projects, must address jobs, education or the environment.

“We really hope the investment and time will pay off in a defined geographic area that has a longer lasting effect in creating more change,” McMahon said.

We spoke with McMahon more about The Dallas Catalyst Program:

What do you expect this catalyst project to kick off? I have no idea; it’s unchartered territory. We just had our first information session this afternoon with 49 nonprofits. As the partnership will evolve, we will issue a request-for-proposal. Right now, we are educating nonprofits in how to respond. We want to help fund two or three organizations that are working toward the same goal.

Who choses what’s funded? Our members will do research and talk about the opportunities presented before chosing finalists. They will discuss which neighborhood they want to adopt for five years and call for those projects before choosing the top three. Our members will get together for a vote this November and the funding could happen starting in 2017.

What makes these members so qualified to pick a catalyst project for the city? Our members are so invested in every way in Dallas and in the region. You see this in the real estate activity that they care about all parts of the city. Some areas may not be as thriving as others, but they want to have a healthy city and a healthy region.