RESPONSIBLE ENDOWMENTS COALITION www.endowmentethics.org


Fossil Free Reed students present to Board of Trustees

At Reed College on a fateful day in February during a freakishly snowy storm uncharacteristic of Portland, Oregon, a small group of dedicated students presented for the first time to the Board of Trustees on the topic of responsible investments, and specifically of divesting the school's $500 million endowment for fossil fuel industry. The students presented their moral and economic arguments for working towards reducing ways in which the College profits from the ecological destruction of a human-habitable planet. A twenty-minute round-table discussion among the Board members and the students followed. 

And it went well

The Board was not just willing to entertain the idea, but started the meeting by saying that they had already decided to review the concrete details of what divesting Reed's endowment would look like. In a follow-up email, the Chairman of the Board, Roger Perlmutter wrote: "I am encouraged to see such passion for the issue of climate change. You should know that the overwhelming scientific evidence for a substantial human contribution to global warming is fully accepted by me and by the entire board." The Board will submit a public letter to the school and the community in regards to their opinions and future actions in the future. We hope it is the near future. 

The students are meeting again in April with the Board to encourage swift action and keep the pressure on, in part because the Board's commitment to "look into divesting" does not necessarily translate to real action. 

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Prescott College Commits to Divest

   Prescott Divests!

The Prescott College Board of Trustees has approved a landmark Fossil Fuel Divestment Resolution, making a commitment to shift endowment investments from the 200 largest fossil fuel corporations to clean, green energy companies and other socially responsible investments aligned with institutional values.  The college is proud to stand behind this resolution as a part of a long-standing commitment to environmental responsibility and social justice.

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Leaders in Mission Related Investing in Philanthropy

'Responsive Philanthropy' Features Mission Investing

posted on: Tuesday, February 04, 2014

by Yna C. Moore, National Committee on Responsive Philanthropy

I'm very excited about the just-released special winter issue of Responsive Philanthropy, NCRP's quarterly journal. It focuses mission investing, a topic that's been getting more and more attention in philanthropy, with articles that tackles myths, shares examples of foundation engagement, additional resources and more.

Check out these articles:

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How Student Activists at Duke Transformed a $6 Billion Endowment

Check out this awesome article from Casey WilliamsCharlie MolthropJacob Tobia on Student Nation.

Last October 4, a group of students clutching more than 2,000 petitions knocked on the door of the Duke University Board of Trustees meeting and requested an audience. Burly security guards barred the door on the order of vexed University President Richard Brodhead. Brodhead, visibly nervous, tried to usher the students out, calling their presence an “interruption.” Undeterred, the group resisted, asking for a chance to present the proposal they had spent almost a year crafting. The president, adamant in his refusal, returned to the meeting and shut the door.

Despite the hostile reception, a modified version of the students’ proposal—which called for the overhaul of the university’s guidelines on investment responsibility—had already found its way onto the board’s agenda. On October 4, 2013, the trustees voted to adopt the new guidelines, expanding the university’s investment oversight committee and establishing a special fund within the endowment—a Social Choice Fund—which will be invested only in prescreened, socially responsible funds.

Read the full article at The Nation.

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Companies, Trade Groups, and Climate Change: Why We Need an SEC Rule on Corporate Political Disclosure

This blog post is cross posted from the Union of Concerned Scientists.

 Today marks the 4th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s landmark decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. But the decision–which opened the floodgates to unlimited corporate political spending–isn’t just of interest to political and legal scholars. If you care about science-based policy, you also have a dog in this fight.

Following Citizens United, we saw a drastic increase in political activity of dark money groups, which don't have to disclose their funders. But the SEC can address this by enacting a rule on corporate political disclosure. Photo: Dan Macy

Following Citizens United, we saw a drastic increase in political activity of dark money groups, which don’t have to disclose their funders. But the SEC can address this by enacting a rule on corporate political disclosure. Photo: Dan Macy

If you’ve been following climate action (and inaction), you’ll know the familiar actors known to spread misinformation about climate science and block progress on policy initiatives to address climate change.The Exxon Mobils and the Koch Brothers of the world are now household names. But in recent years, another set of players have come onto the field in a bigger way. Not corporations and billionaires butdark money groups, including trade and business associations and think tanks. Dark money groups are so called because their funding sources are unknown. Such groups have tax-exempt nonprofit status and thus, are not legally required to disclose their donors. This allows companies and individuals to fund climate-policy-blocking groups without the actions being affiliated with their name. 

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New ALEC Documents Show Why the SEC Needs to Require Corporate Political Spending Disclosure

New revelations about the conservative American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) illustrate the need for greater transparency by corporations for their political and lobbying spending. The internal documents released by The Guardian show that ALEC has targeted dozens of large corporations for fundraising in 2013, including what ALEC calls “prodigal son” corporations that had previously dropped their membership because of the organization’s controversial positions.

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Statement on SEC Shift on Political Spending Disclosure

Statement of the Corporate Reform Coalition and Other Undersigned Organizations in Response to the Securities and Exchange Commission’s Shift on Political Spending Disclosure

The Corporate Reform Coalition is deeply disappointed by and demands an explanation for the removal from its agenda of the most widely supported rulemaking in the Securities and Exchange Commission’s history. The agency chose to put the political spending disclosure rule on their docket for consideration based on its strong support from investors and the potential risks to companies from secret political spending. The decision to drop this rule and others from the 2014 Commission agenda is a step back from the SEC’s proactive agenda to protect investors.

There is an urgent need for a new disclosure rule to address political spending since the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision allowed companies to directly spend their money in politics. Citizens United also affirmed the constitutionality of disclosure requirements and, in fact, assumed that new corporate political spending would be transparent to shareholders. Justice Kennedy said in the opinion that “shareholder objections raised through the procedures of corporate democracy” would provide accountability for the new political spending. Without a mandatory disclosure rule shareholders do not have the ability to raise those objections.

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One month ago in Pittsburgh...

“I aint gonna go to bed! I slept already during the day cause I knew you guys were coming!” Pastor Phillip Battle Jr. said to us as we were curling up in our sleeping bags, “Oh! And don't forget about the pizzas in the morning when you get up!”

 

During the three-day-long conference in Pittsburgh, my friends from Middlebury College and University of Rochester and I stayed overnight at the New Light Temple Baptist Church with Pastor Phillip Battle Jr. It was nothing less than a memorable stay, because Pastor Phillip was understanding, generous, and just extremely loving in general. He told us that we were doing something very important, so he supported us – although we never asked for it, he even offered to extend our stay until Monday night. He bought us pizzas on the first night, and chatted with us until it was two. We discussed his experiences in the army, and he was very curious to find out about each of our own passions. 

The conference itself was exceptional. I heard that compared with previous years, this year’s program included more workshops on environmental justice issues, which I valued highly. Although I recognize that some people would have liked even more workshops surrounding this topic, the ones that were there opened my eyes to this often-neglected aspect of the environmental movement. To carry this great work further, I believe that we must build an inclusive progressive movement with environmental & social justice at its center. 

At Powershift, I was greatly encouraged by all the people who were taking active steps to stop Climate Change on their own or with their affiliated groups. I met with the rest of the divestment organizers and discussed strategies, and heard from grassroots organizers from the field who are already paying the bulk of the costs of our energy extraction industries. The latter group touched me deeply: to this day, Kandi Mossett’s sharing about the injustices brought about by the development of a fracking ‘boomtown’ still unsettles me and motivates me to do more for her – our – cause within my capacity.

I realized that this is a movement which should concern anyone who has a race, a gender, a class, an age and drinks water and breathes air. How could any of us live our lives in spite of a deep understanding of all these forces that have been shaping our experiences, and thus our thoughts and perspectives, and will continue to do so in our lives relentlessly? The first step towards true independence, personhood and individualization is a self-recognition of ‘who I am’. It is then that we will acknowledge that nothing is inevitable, that we can enjoy the liberty to choose our allies and our values.

Powershift made it clear to me what my lifelong goal has to be, and helped me to identify some amazing and wonderful people who are doing this work already, most of them out of desperation. The task now is to reach out to more people to help them investigate their identity and privileges. Nothing is inevitable, if only we stand up on our feet to live out the values that we profess.

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“The Future Ain’t What It Used to Be”: Collaborative Leadership, Higher Education, and Climate Destabilization

In this piece Second Nature Senior Fellow and former Provost at Ithaca College Peter Bardaglio examines new changes and opportunities in sustainability in higher education. 

From the piece:

Few institutions are better positioned to provide the leadership required to avoid the potential collapse of human civilization than higher education. Indeed, it is hard to see where else the necessary leadership will come from if universities and colleges do not step up and take on this responsibility. Not just any kind of leadership will do the trick, however. This new leadership must be collaborative; it must adopt in its interactions with the larger society the same ethos of cooperation and mutuality that we need to manifest in our interactions with the biosphere. Traditional ideas about top down, hierarchical leadership, it should be obvious, will reinforce rather than dissolve the old commitment to dominion that we need to put behind us.

 

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Brown Votes NO on Coal Divestment & Students Respond

Press Release- Corporation Votes “No” to Coal Divestment

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: OCTOBER 27, 2013

Contact Info:Contact: Luke Taylor, 203.623.9044, Luke_Taylor@Brown.edu

BROWN UNIVERSITY VOTES “NO” ON COAL DIVESTMENT

Providence, RI – On Saturday, Brown University’s Board of Trustees voted against a proposal to remove the University’s investments in the 15 largest coal companies in the U.S, despite the recommendation of the school’s Advisory Committee on Corporate Responsibility and Investment Policy. “I’m deeply disappointed in our administration. The board acted explicitly in opposition to the voices of Brown’s community, and of the endowment oversight committee. This could have been a moment for Brown to step up as a leader in the fight against climate change. Instead, the Administration chose to continue supporting an industry that profits from wreaking havoc on frontline communities and destroying our chance for a sustainable future,” said Brown student Ruby Goldberg ‘17.

 

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