April 2016 Newsletter

The theme of this month’s IEN newsletter is impact investing.

The School Spotlight focuses on the exciting news that Becker College, a founding member of the Intentional Endowments Network, has committed to implementing a 100% impact investing strategy for its endowment by June 30, 2017.

Our feature article provides an overview of what impact investing is, and why it’s important. It comes from Paul Herman, CEO and Founder of HIP Investor, the impact ratings and advisory firm that will be rating Becker College’s endowment portfolio.

We have numerous updates to share including the official launch of the IEN membership program, a new team member, a restructuring of our working groups, and several new projects that are gaining traction.  

As always, your contributions to the conversation are welcome and needed. Please be in touch with any questions, new or ideas for the IEN.

Warm regards, 

Tony Cortese & Georges Dyer


School Spotlight: Becker College

becker logoOn March 10th, 2016, Becker College, a founding member of the Intentional Endowments Network, announced that they have officially mandated that all investments in their endowment should generate a positive impact on society as well as a financial return. This makes Becker the first college or university to pursue a 100% impact strategy across its entire endowment, including metrics on health, income, equality, environment, diversity and transparency. The completion date for the portfolio transformation of the school's $5 million endowment is June 30th, 2017. To read Becker’s press release, click here.

Feature Article: Moving to 100% Impact Investing Across All Asset Classes:  A How-To Guide  

Paul Herman PhotoBy: Paul Herman, CEO and Founder of HIP Investor

How can you move your endowment and trustees from Intention to Implementation?  This four-step guide, posted on our blog, can help shift your institution more swiftly and comprehensively to a 100% impact-focused portfolio -- across all asset classes.  

Read the how-to guide here.


Featured Event: World Energy Innovation Forum

World Energy Innovation Forum - Intentional Endowments NetworkMay 4-5, 2016 at the Tesla Factory, Freemont, CA

The International Endowments Network community has been invited to attend WEIF at a discounted registration rate. To receive 40% off the regular rate, register online with the discount code IEN1000 by April 11th.

The World Energy Innovation Forum (WEIF℠), chaired by industry leader Ira Ehrenpreis of DBL Partners, an IEN Founding Member, convenes the who’s-who in the energy innovation sector to discuss the important energy issues and opportunities of our time. The event will host the leading investors, entrepreneurs, corporates, policymakers, and other prominent members of the energy ecosystem for two days of conversation, dialogue, and networking. Attendees will have the extraordinary opportunity to hear first-hand from Tesla’s CEO, Elon Musk, among other key leaders in the energy innovation sector. 

Updates from the Network 

Founding Members of the Intentional Endowments Network Announced

Nearly 80 colleges and universities, foundations, investment firms, and non-profits make up the Founding Members of the Intentional Endowments Network (IEN). After an 18-month pilot phase of building this peer-network and learning community, the launch of a more formal membership program represents an exciting milestone for the initiative. The announcement has been featured in Pensions & InvestmentsInstitutional Investor, and Inside Higher Ed. The list of founding members is available here. Please read the press release, and share this exciting news!


IEN Welcomes Sonal Mahida to the Team

We are pleased to announce that Sonal Mahida has joined our team as a Director. Sonal comes to IEN with over 15 years of experience in the field, most recently with PRI. During her career Sonal has worked on ESG investing and sustainability issues at institutional investors, S&P 500, Fortune 500 companies, as well as non-profits. Her full bio is available on our website.


Formation of the Executive Committee

The IEN Steering Committee represents a cross section of the IEN and is comprised of 35 leaders from higher education, foundations, investment firms, and non-profits. At its second meeting, the Steering Committee recommended forming an Executive Committee to provide strategic guidance and develop priorities for the Network. This committee is not a fiduciary board, it provides leadership and recommendations to the full Steering Committee and Network on larger policy issues. The inaugural members of the Executive Committee will be announced soon and will hold their first meeting this spring. 


IEN Project Updates:

  • Higher Education and the Paris Climate Agreement
    • At the suggestion of Jonathan Lash, president of Hampshire College, IEN is developing a project to drive an explicit discussion about how endowments, and higher education as a whole, can leverage financial, social, moral, and intellectual capital to effectively support the implementation of the Paris Climate Agreement. This group will explore avenues that may include briefing papers, webinars, and shareholder engagement strategies to help higher education and the business community ensure we meet the goals of the Paris Agreement.
  • Fiduciary Action on Climate Change
    • IEN will be working with the Responsible Endowments Coalition and other partners to support peer-to-peer learning and leadership development amongst fiduciaries at small and medium funds who want to implement the recommended process guidelines outlined in the 2015 REC-SEIU report, “Action on Climate: A Practical Guide for Fiduciaries.”  We are looking for college and university trustees who would be interested in participating in this project in the coming months -- if you are a trustee who is interested, or know one who may be, please contact us for details.
  • New Clean Energy Working Group
    • IEN's Clean Energy working group has recently been created to investigate, collect, and share strategies for colleges and universities to use their endowments to invest in energy efficiency and renewable energy. Keep your eye out for future webinars, workshops, and publications this group may provide to connect endowment decision-makers to clean energy investment strategies. To read about our other working groups, click here.
  • Shareholder Engagement
    • The IEN is assessing shareholder engagement activities by endowments, as well as drivers and barriers to such activities. We will be looking to work with a small group of schools to pilot more active shareholder engagement activities and inform the design of tools and collaborative projects to support more active share ownership by all endowments. We encourage any endowment representatives who are interested in learning more about shareholder engagement opportunities to contact us about participating in this project. 


Upcoming Events

IEN Events

  • Innovation in ESG Investing: June 13, 2016, New York, NY
    • IEN is partnering with Bloomberg and Henley School of Business to host this event focused on cutting edge thought leadership and academic research on ESG investing.  
  • California Intentionally Designed Endowment Forum: August 24-25, 2016, San Francisco, CA

    • IEN and San Francisco State University will host a forum focused on endowment design for the California State University System and other California schools.
  • Chicago Intentionally Designed Endowment Forum: Early November, 2016, Chicago, IL
  • Student Forum at Portland State University: Dates TBD, Portland, OR

For more details and updates on these events, click here.

Other Events (Non-IEN)

To view more upcoming events, click here

Opportunities for Action

Opportunity for Trustees Looking to Advance Conversations with Fellow Board Members About Climate Risk in their Endowment  

IEN will be working with the Responsible Endowments Coalition and other partners to support peer-to-peer learning and leadership development amongst trustees at colleges and universities with small and medium sized endowments who want to implement the recommended process guidelines outlined in the 2015 REC-SEIU report, “Action on Climate: A Practical Guide for Fiduciaries.”  

We are looking to assemble a small group of trustees from different institutions to participate in this project. Trustees will benefit from support from experts and peers on effective strategies for advancing these conversations at their institutions -- and will benefit whether or not their institution has already taken any action on climate. We are focusing on individuals based around NYC or the northeast, but are not limited to that if there are trustees in other parts of the country who are interested in participating.

If you are a trustee who is interested -- or if you know trustees who might be -- please contact Georges Dyer at [email protected].

Feedback Opportunity for Investors: How do City Climate Action Plan Solutions and Investment Opportunities Fit into Your Investment Criteria?

During March and April 2016, the Urban Sustainability Directors Network (USDN) and impact investing consultant HIP (Human Impact + Profit) Investor Inc. are interviewing investors about their goals, preferences and criteria for financing current and future solutions that deliver environmental sustainability and climate action. The USDN seeks to inform, educate and engage investors in advancing and potentially funding the Climate Action Plans of cities including Oakland, CA, Milwaukee, WI, Phoenix, AZ, Ithaca, NY,  Ann Arbor, MI, Vancouver, BC, Berkeley, CA, and Palo Alto, CA. Examples of potential investments to meet cities Climate Action Plan goals include reducing demand for energy and associated greenhouse gases, shifting energy supply to renewables, greening transportation, purifying water, and adapting to climate change.

The USDN and HIP Investor Teams are keen to hear your replies and direct feedback on these opportunities and how they can fit into your investment criteria. If interested in participating in a short 30-60 minute interview to give feedback on the phone, over email, or in person, email [email protected] or [email protected].


US SIF Trends Report: Endowment Feedback on Sustainable Investing Requested

The US SIF Foundation has launched the research process for the 2016 Report on US Sustainable, Responsible and Investing Trends.  The “Trends Report” is the definitive overview of the US institutions, organizations and money managers that consider ESG criteria to generate long-term competitive financial returns and positive societal impact.  No other report provides a detailed breakdown of the professional assets under management—across all asset classes—that are engaged in these investing strategies. 

We encourage you to participate in this initiative.  Your responses will be confidential and will not be attributed to you or your institution. Your institution will simply be listed in an appendix to the report.

The US SIF staff will shortly be sending a confidential, customized link to educational endowments that consider ESG issues -- such as climate risk, diversity and executive pay.   If you would like to make sure that your institution is included, please contact US SIF Foundation Research Director Meg Voorhes at [email protected].

US SIF Foundation will send a copy of the final report—expected in November 2016—to all respondents.

Featured Resources

In the News

A few select news articles we've posted over the past three months…

If you have an original piece you would like to submit for an upcoming newsletter, or for more information about the Intentional Endowments Network and how you can support this work, please contact Georges Dyer at [email protected]

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