• Non-Profit
  • Real Estate

Jeffrey Tubbs ’95 is president of JDT International, a firm that specializes in urban planning, real estate development and public/private partnerships. Tubbs credits his volunteer work with Big Brothers and Big Sisters as his inspiration for launching his non-profit, Urban Roots. The mission of Urban Roots is to enhance all JDT International housing developments with art, design and sustainable features while mentoring local youth.

In 2008, Tubbs and his partner began mentoring a group of 15 high school students in Olde Kensington. They started out with small workshops to give the teens a snapshot of the real estate development industry. “It was great to see the kids get excited about learning the various ins and outs of the business. They experienced everything from carpentry to urban planning,” says Tubbs.

Eight years after its humble beginnings, Urban Roots is working on its biggest project yet — a $3 million park revitalization with Philadelphia Eagle’s player Connor Barwin at Smith Playground, located at 24th Street and Snyder Ave. in South Philadelphia. Renovations for this project include improvements to the recreation center building and adjacent play spaces, new basketball courts, updated football and baseball fields, installation of green infrastructure by the Philadelphia Water Department and new community murals by the Mural Arts Program.

The developer also points out that he often works with friends, some of whom he met during his days at Friends Select. “I would not be where I am without Friends Select,” says Tubbs.

Tubbs loves what he does. However, with every success come numerous challenges — the permits and approval process can be daunting and appeasing local stakeholders, neighborhood groups and politicians is certainly complicated. Tubbs says, “Gentrification is a tricky subject. We have
to be cognizant of how we’re affecting the local community.” He continues, “Diverse communities are the best communities.”

When asked if he has any words of wisdom for aspiring entrepreneurs, Tubbs says, “Follow the golden rules — Do the right thing. Don’t cut any corners. Pay your dues and always try to help people.”