IEN Endowments & Foundations Workshop in Boston



On Wednesday, May 15, IEN convened an intimate group of leaders representing higher education endowments (trustees, investment committee members, and investment team staff) along with representatives from investment consulting, management and OCIO firms for a workshop to discuss best practices related to sustainable, impact investing as well as opportunities to demonstrate climate leadership. 

This workshop was co-hosted by Amundi Asset Management in their Boston office. In collaboration with Annie Joyce Chor (Head of ESG, Amundi US & Investment Committee Member, Phi Beta Kappa Foundation) and Clara Menet (ESG Special Projects, Amundi), the IEN team structured a program full of networking and discussion.

After refreshments and networking, attendees heard from a panel featuring Amundi, an investment consulting firm, and an endowment committed to net zero. They spoke to the challenges and opportunities regarding net zero commitments among endowments, various ways to advance the just transition of an endowment to a more sustainable, mission aligned portfolio. Examples include:

  • Investing in transition (e.g. venture capital, early stage climate tech, external managers)
  • Prioritizing engagement with managers and the real economy
  • Leading with justice by supporting diversity in asset management, in ways that not only drive social impact but also increase financial performance
  • Aiding in “transitioning to the energy transition” by focusing on educating and preparing investment committees to support endowments’ readiness to make net zero commitments

Attendees then engaged in dialogue before hearing from the next panel, focused on IEN’s newest initiative - the Endowment Impact Benchmark (EIB). The EIB, piloted in 2023, is an assessment and ratings framework that enables endowments to demonstrate intentional leadership and earn recognition by reporting on their sustainable and impact investment strategies. After completing a questionnaire and providing supporting documentation, participating endowments are awarded a rating based on their alignment with market standards and best practices (Participant, Bronze, Silver, Gold, or Platinum). Questionnaire responses are reviewed and verified by BlueMark, a leading impact verification firm commissioned by IEN to lead these third party evaluations. BlueMark also provides each participant with a customized detailed report of their assessment results and ratings.

At this workshop, attendees learned about the structure, goals, and participation opportunities of the EIB from Georges Dyer (Executive Director, IEN),  Sarah Gelfand (Managing Director, BlueMark), and a representative from an endowment who participated in the first EIB pilot cohort. After debriefing with thoughts and questions from the group, the workshop concluded with networking focused on building relationships and sharing ideas and questions.

The IEN team is grateful to Amundi for hosting this workshop and to all of the participants.  If you are interested in hosting or participating in a similar workshop in your city or learning more about the EIB, please contact Aicha Ly or Georges Dyer, at [email protected] and [email protected] respectively.

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