What Is The Intentional Endowments Network?

The Intentional Endowments Network is a peer learning network of colleges, universities, and other mission-driven institutional investors working together to achieve their risk and return objectives through investment actions that create a thriving, sustainable economy. As of January 2020, we have over 160 network members including endowments, asset managers, investment consultants, nonprofit partners and individuals.  

This broad-based, collaborative network focuses on creating:

  1. Intentionally designed endowments, aligned with institutional mission, that will become the norm in higher education and other tax-exempt organizations, evidenced by growth in policies, practices and actions.
  2. Improved sustainability performance by businesses in response to investor concerns, evidenced by changes in corporate practices and actions.

IEN leverages its Roadmap for Intentionally Designed Endowments as an overarching framework for supporting endowments and their service providers in effectively, prudently, and efficiently advancing progress on mission-aligned, sustainable investing. 


“As a peer learning network comprised of foundation staff, CIO's and trustees, hearing from people they trust and see as credible as fiduciaries is crucial..."

     - Garrett Ashley, Vice Chancellor for University Relations and Advancement, California State University   



Why Higher Education?

Higher Education is the only sector capable of creating the broad scale and necessary change in mindset, skills and values of government, business and other professional leaders. Society looks to higher education to identify solutions to major problems, anticipating future challenges, and developing innovative strategies and models that will enable progress – to be a role model for what society might look like.  

We are faced with the greatest intergenerational equity challenge in modern history. If we continue business as usual, today’s students and their children will find themselves in a world with greatly diminished prospects for a good quality of life, peace and security. 

All investments we make have health, environmental and societal impacts. We hope that it is a positive impact but sometimes we have consequences that we did not plan for in our quest for financial return. We need to be intentional about the impact we want.

“We cannot solve today’s problems at the same level of thinking at which they were created."  

    - Albert Einstein


Why Now?

Humanity is at a crossroads without historical precedent.  Challenges related to climate change, water, food, economic inequality, poverty and social unrest pose an existential threat to society.

“The truth is we’ve wasted 40 or 50 years since the basic fact about serious manmade climate damage became known. … by the time we’ve fully decarbonized our economy… a great deal of damage will have been done.”  

    - Jeremy Grantham


Why Participate?

IEN hosts forums and events; facilitates peer networking; curates useful resources on sustainable investing opportunities; and provides educational venues for information exchange around a variety of sustainable investing strategies, such as ESG integration, impact investing, and shareholder engagement.



“I wanted to reach out to extend my congratulations on a very well run and effective conference last week...The conference content was very engaging and I found myself taking away some actionable items for our practice moving forward."

     - Kelly Green, Chicago office of Graystone Consulting, Morgan Stanley Wealth Management


“As a trustee and the chair of the Investment and Business Affairs Committees at Northland College, I've found the Intentional Endowments Network to be an invaluable resource.  Anyone with a "duty of care" that comes with fiduciary responsibility will find the peer networking and the library of information on the website very useful"  

      - Mike Fiorio, Trustee, Northland College

Endowments have a unique opportunity where doing the right thing for the climate – reducing their exposure to stranded carbon asset risk, and investing solutions – is also the smart thing for their investment portfolios.

– Bob Litterman

Chair, Risk Committee
Kepos Capital LP

Events & Webinars

AASHE’s Global Conference on Sustainability in Higher Education (GCSHE)

As a promotional partner of GCSHE, we are happy to share the discount code, IEN-GCSHE, that will save you $25 off a standard full-access pass. With 9 live keynote speakers, more than 70 live/simulive...

ESG Investment North America

Organizer: Reuters Events

Learn more here.

Energy Transition Summit

Organizer: Reuters Events

Location: London, UK

Learn more here.

ESG Investment Europe

Organizer: Reuters Events

Location: London, UK

Learn more here.

Past IEN Events

For more information on past IEN events, click here.

Fixed-Income Investing in Regenerative Agriculture & Resilient Food Systems


Organizer: Croatan Conversations Events

Learn more here.

Sustainable Retirements Initiatives: Fiduciary Duty

Date, time, and more information forthcoming.


New Guide Helps College Endowments Promote Racial Equity

BOSTON, MA (August 20, 2020) – Colleges and universities around the country grappling with multiple intersecting crises now have a new tool to take actions that promote racial equity and support long-term well-being for their students, employees, communities, and institutions. Launched today, Investing in Racial Equity: A Primer for College & University Endowments guides higher education fiduciaries through key concepts, tools, and examples of investment strategies that manage the systemic risk posed by racial inequity, shape a more equitable economy, and deliver financial returns to sustain the institution.

Read More

Student Organizations’ Impact in Higher Ed Divestment Com...

This post by Gwladys Ngatchou, IEN Intern, is part of a series in which IEN members and network partners share their thinking about intentional endowment investing to address racial injustice and other diversity, equity, and inclusion themes. Follow along to read an intern's insights on possibility of collaboration between Higher Ed institutions and student organizations. 

Read More

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