What is a responsible endowment?


The Responsible Endowments Coalition defines a responsible endowment as one that:

  1. Integrates the community’s values, institutional policies, and beliefs that emanate from the school’s mission statement into its investing;
  2. Demonstrates intergenerational equity and responsibility to stable, sustainable returns, not generated through gambling on destructive, risky, or socially or environmentally unsustainable investments — by fully fulfilling its fiduciary duty. (See “What is fiduciary responsibility?”).

Colleges and universities invest a combined total of over $400 billion in the United States, and as constituents of these institutions, REC believes that stakeholders in higher education hold a unique power, privilege, and responsibility to ensure that the ramifications of these investments are as responsible and sustainable as possible.

What is the Responsible Endowments Coalition (REC)?


The Responsible Endowments Coalition (REC) is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization that works to foster social change and corporate accountability by building and unifying the college and university-based responsible investment movement. We empower students and other university members to challenge their institutions of higher education to invest responsibly and proactively, in ways that confront corporate abuses—such as sweatshop labor and environmental destruction—and encourage accountability to their communities. REC provides the tools, resources, and networks to help students lead successful responsible investment campaigns on their campuses.

We’re here to help in a variety of ways:

  • Visiting schools to present about responsible investment, help engage with decision-makers, or share ideas
  • Hosting national conferences led by students and professionals from around the country
  • Proposing edits to proposals, letters, and other documents to help frame the issues
  • Assisting in brainstorming strategies for individual campaigns
  • Providing access to template documents based on successes at other schools
  • Mediating or assisting in conversations between students and administrators, if necessary
  • Coordinating joint actions between campuses
  • Connecting students with responsible investment professionals
  • Introducing students to their peers who work on responsible investment at other schools
  • Providing information, technical assistance, and connections to ally organizations and student activist networks
  • Engaging with students after they’ve graduated to keep them engaged with responsible investment activism

So, what is an endowment again?


An endowment is a large amount of money from which the school draws financial health. We say it’s sort of like a school’s “savings account”, as you can see below.

The basics of a school’s endowment.

However, an endowment is not exactly like a savings account. For one, as humans, we like to spend our savings now and then, where as the endowment model is based on more or less infinite growth. As more and more donations and investment returns build the endowment, the returns from its investments continue to grow, supplying the school with more and more operating funds.

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