The Intentional Endowments Network (IEN) is a broad-based, collaborative network advancing intentionally designed endowments through a variety of strategies – e.g., ESG integration, impact investing, shareholder engagement – that will make a significant and critical contribution to creating a healthy, just, and sustainable society.  It supports colleges, universities, and other mission-driven organizations in aligning their endowment investment practices with their mission, values, and sustainability goals without sacrificing financial returns. 

Working closely with leading organizations and initiatives – including Ceres, the Principles for Responsible Investment, Second Nature, Sustainable Investments Institute, Sustainable Endowments Institute, Responsible Endowments Coalition, CDP, and many others – the network engages key leaders and stakeholders in the higher education, business, and non-profit sectors. It provides opportunities for learning and education, peer networking, convening, thought leadership and information exchange to support progress towards its vision of intentionally designed endowments becoming the norm in higher education and beyond. 

IEN is an initiative of The Crane Institute of Sustainability, a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) non-profit. It is coordinated by Georges Dyer and Tony Cortese and based in Boston, MA. 

Click here for a list of IEN Activities to Date.


About Intentionally Designed Endowments

The concept of the “Intentionally Designed Endowment” is about ensuring that institutional investment practices consider the full range of emerging material issues related to sustainability, and do not inadvertently work against the mission or values of the institution.  It involves being intentional about how investment decisions can both achieve the strongest financial returns possible, which are necessary to support the institution now and in the future, and contribute to creating a sustainable society, which is necessary to ensure a safe and stable future within which to operate. It is not to advocate any specific action or approach.

  • An intentionally designed endowment strategy involves aligning investment practices with institutional mission and values as appropriate for the culture and goals of each institution.
  • It is non-prescriptive, and involves developing a more complete picture of the investment portfolio by considering environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors when evaluating investments.
  • Such a strategy has many benefits including reducing risks associated with regulation, litigation, resource scarcity and costs, and consumer preferences that can threaten companies with poor sustainability performance.
  • An intentionally designed endowment strategy can include any mix of approaches an institution chooses to employ, such as positive or negative screening, divestment, shareholder engagement or activism, ESG integration, social finance, impact investing, and others.
  • Topics such as ESG criteria, climate risk and stranded assets are increasingly becoming mainstream investment concerns, with which fiduciaries in all capacities should be familiar.