Endowment Progress

We are seeing some major announcements from university endowments the past few years creating intentionally designed endowments to invest for social, environmental and economic sustainability. These include: 

2021

Columbia University does not hold any direct investments in publicly traded oil and gas companies and has recently formalized this policy of non-investment by revising their investment policy. 

Creighton University announced it plans to phase out all investments in fossil fuels from its $587 million endowment within the next 10 years and target new investments in sustainable energy.

Amherst College Board of Trustees has announced it would officially divest from fossil fuel interests and phase out the remaining investments in directly held, long-term fossil fuel funds by 2030.

Babson College Board of Trustees voted to integrate ESG factors while making investment decisions for its endowment. The board voted to incorporate DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion) principles into its endowment investing as well.

Cornell University Assembly passed a resolution calling on one of the main pension fund suppliers for Cornell faculty and staff to divest from fossil fuel companies and certain agribusiness practices associated with deforestation and human rights abuses.

Canadian Universities Unite as Investors to Help Address the Climate Crisis

 A coalition of Canadian university endowments and pension plans is launching a new initiative through SHARE, a non-profit investor advocacy organization, to engage investee corporations on climate change risks.

Canada’s Public Sector Pension Investment Board (PSP) pledged to fully divest from US private prison companies amidst public pressure.

King’s College London has fully divested from all fossil fuels almost two years ahead of schedule.

Newnham College has announced that it will divest from all meaningful exposure to fossil fuels by 2030, in line with the University’s commitment to full divestment in the same timeframe.

Southern New Hampshire University reassigned part of its endowment to address structural racism by investing in venture funds and start-ups founded and managed by Black and brown executives.

Trinity College commits to net zero carbon emissions before 2050, in line with the spirit of the Paris Agreement.

University of Cape Town Council has approved the Responsible and Sustainable Investment Policy, which sets out the approach to be taken by the university regarding its financial endowments stewardship.

University of Michigan announced a plan to achieve “net zero” carbon footprint status for its $12.5 billion endowment by 2050 through measures including shifting away from investment in fossil fuels and toward renewable energy.

University of PennsylvaniaThe Office of Investments has established the goal of reducing the net greenhouse gas emissions from Penn’s endowment investments to zero by 2050.

University of Southern California Board of Trustees’ Investment Committee voted to halt new investments in fossil fuels, the university announced. The university will also liquidate its existing fossil fuel investments over the next several years.

University of Victoria announced that it is transferring $80 million to a short-term bond that reduces the “carbon intensity” of its investments. That follows the approval of a policy last year to lower carbon emissions, represented in the entire $225-million portfolio, by 45 per cent by 2030.

Arizona State University Foundation commits to transition its investment portfolio to at least Net Zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2035.

District of Columbia Retirement Board saw legislation being introduced by Washington Councilmember Robert White requiring the District of Columbia Retirement Board to have diverse asset managers and investment consultants.

New York State Pension Fund's New York State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli announced that the $246 billion New York State Common Retirement Fund completed a review of its oil sands holdings and has divested from seven tar sands companies.

Princeton University Board of trustee has announced it will divest and disassociate from the fossil fuel industry, as well as companies currently involved in climate disinformation. The University will equally work towards making its $26.6 billion endowment carbon neutral.

Thrift Saving Plan will begin offering ESG funds in 2022. The ESG funds will be available in a new “mutual fund window,” similar to a brokerage option, for the plan. 

University of California has reported that 60% of the investment firms they partnered with in 2020 are Black- and/or women-owned, according to a progress report on the managers the Oakland-based university invests with.

University of Toronto joined more than 450 investors, representing US$41 trillion in assets, in signing a joint statement to world governments, urging leaders to accelerate action to address climate change.

University of Sydney adopted a Sustainable Investment  Strategy to increase investment in sustainable solutions and exclude fossil fuel companies with inadequate transition plans from investment. 

University of Utah's Academic Senate has approved an ad hoc committee’s proposal to realign the university’s endowment “toward positive sustainability investment”.

University of Waterloo has committed to reducing the carbon footprint of its pension and endowment investment portfolios by 50 per cent by the year 2030 and is committing to achieving full carbon neutrality by 2040.

Yale University Board of Trustees recently approved a new set of ethical investing guidelines for the university’s $31.2 billion endowment.

Aberdeen University: Aberdeen became the 90th university in the UK to commit to complete divestment from fossil fuels.

Boston University: The University’s Board of Trustees voted to immediately end all direct investment in fossil fuels.

Cal State System: CSU Chancellor announced that no future investments in fossil fuels will be made by any of the system’s three investment portfolios.

California State University Monterey Bay: The University’s investment committee is in the process of analyzing how a potential full divestment from fossil fuels would impact their returns.

Dartmouth: The Trustees of Dartmouth have pledged to end all holdings in fossil fuels in addition to making new investments in the clean energy industry.

Ford Foundation: Announced no future investment in assets related to the fossil fuel industry.

Grand Valley State University: The Dorothy A. Johnson Center for Philanthropy at GVSU started an equity endowment for small Michigan-based nonprofits.

Harvard University: The Harvard Management Company built on its previous termination of direct investment in fossil fuels, adding that it will not make new investments in the fossil fuel industry in the future. It also pledged to ensure its own operations are “greenhouse gas neutral” by June 30, 2022.

Lancaster University: The University has transferred all of its investment portfolios to new ESG-aligned funds.

Loyola University Chicago: Loyola has released a new sustainable investment policy, which includes divestment from fossil fuels and integration of ESG considerations.

Macalester College: The College pledged to divest all dedicated, publicly traded oil and gas assets, including all shares of Enbridge, Inc. It also adopted a college investment policy that prohibits any new direct investment in oil and gas assets.

McKnight Foundation: The Foundation has pledged to convert its $3B endowment to a net-zero portfolio by 2050.

Mount Holyoke: Mount Holyoke shared updates on their fossil fuel divestment strategy and carbon neutrality pledge established in March 2021.

Selwyn College: The College will divest from all “meaningful” investments in fossil fuels by the end of this year.

Trinity College: Trinity’s Investment Committee will be moving its shares out of the MSCI World ex-Fossil Fuel, ex-Tobacco Index and into the ILIM Climate Conscious Fund Index.

University of Minnesota: The University will divest all of its funds currently supporting fossil fuel-related companies over the next 5-7 years, largely to the credit of its students’ activism.

University of San Diego: Alongside other Catholic universities, University of San Diego is seeking to eliminate its endowment’s exposure to fossil fuels in alignment with Laudato Si’. Laudato Si’, or “Praised Be To You” is a line from The Canticle of the Sun by St. Francis.

University of St. Thomas: Over the next five years, the University will divest from public securities of companies involved in the exploration and extraction of fossil fuels. In the next 10 years, it will do the same for private investments alongside a pledge to not create any new investments in fossil fuel companies.

University of Toronto: In addition to an announcement of divestment from fossil fuel, the University communicated a goal of a net zero portfolio by 2050. It will also allocate 10 percent of the endowment portfolio to sustainable and low-carbon assets by 2025 – an estimated $400 million worth of investments.

University of Virginia: A new Advisory Committee on Investor Responsibility has been established at the University to supplement the addition of ESG criteria into the management of their endowment.

Vassar College: The Board of Trustees announced the explicit addition of environmental and sustainability concerns to their endowment management guidelines.

Virginia Union University: The University’s new endowment policy makes them the first HBCU to have the majority of its portfolio managed by firms with minority owners.

Worcester Polytechnic Institute: WPI has signed the UN’s Principles for Responsible Investment.

Sewanee: The University of the South: The Board of Regents has committed to investing $10 million dollars of the University endowment in the Sewanee Village development plan.

 

 

Previous Years: 

2020

 

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