Impact Update: Integrating ESG Factors into Endowment Investing

Impact Update

Intentionally Designed Endowments Making a Difference


July 2019: Integrating ESG Factors into Endowment Investing



Over the last several weeks, three university endowments have taken decisive action to align their investments more closely with their institutional mission. These actions are an example of an overall trend: more endowments are moving from the “learning and planning” phase of the intentionally designed endowment roadmap - the path that most institutions follow - to the “align, assess, and monitor” phase.

IEN Members Taking Action

  • University of New Hampshire completed the transition of 16 percent of its investable assets—$37 million­—into ESG-qualified (environmental, social and governance) investments.
  • University of North Carolina Asheville Board of Trustees approved using ESG criteria for approximately 10% of its endowment—about $5 million­—that will be divested from fossil fuel investments. UNC Asheville will be working with an IEN member firm, Walden Asset Management, to implement this strategy.
  • Arizona State University Foundation, a founding member of IEN, established a new socially responsible investment fund for donors.

How Progress Was Made

In each case, there has been an evolving pathway from defining institutional goals and learning about sustainable investing options, to establishing policies and beginning to implement with advisors, consultants, and managers. Watch stakeholders from UNH describe their journey at a recent IEN event, and read more about the decision-making process at UNC Asheville and the ASU Foundation.

What’s Next?

Join colleagues face-to-face to map out the next steps on your own institution’s journey at our upcoming Community Impact Investing Roundtable and Higher Education Climate Leadership Summit. Or take a look with your team at the resources available in the Intentionally Designed Endowment Roadmap, particularly Step 5: Align, which includes both realigning investments and becoming an active owner through shareholder engagement strategies.

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