Proposed investments in Waste Management (WM) and Intel with corresponding engagement strategies on human rights violations in the supply chain and employee safety show the ESG issues most pressing to the next generation of sustainable investors.  


BOSTON, MA (MAY 22, 2024) – The Intentional Endowments Network announced today that student teams from Hampton University and the University of Southern California were named the winners of the Student Corporate Engagement Challenge in the Graduate and Undergraduate category, respectively. 


The Graduate category winners from Hampton University recommended an investment in Intel and proposed an engagement strategy to manage human rights violations in the supply chain, asking Intel to add to its 2030 Goal of Human Rights within the Supply Chain Industry within the first year of engagement.


The University of Southern California team took home top honors in the Undergraduate category, thanks to an investment recommendation in Waste Management (WM) and an engagement strategy around improved employee safety, reporting, and a reduced illness rate and injury rate among its workers. 


The Challenge asks students to pitch an investment in a publicly-traded company, and include in that recommendation a shareholder engagement strategy focused on addressing an environmental, social, or governance issue where the company could improve in ways that would both enhance the value of the investment and drive positive impacts for society. 


The winners competed in a pool of eight finalist teams for the top spot. The Runner-up in the Graduate category was the team from the University of Michigan, and in the Undergraduate category was Central Washington University.


"As the only HBCU team in the finals, this challenge was an extremely memorable experience for us,” said Reid Hewitt, a member of the winning graduate team at Hampton University. “It instilled a strong sense of pride and confidence in our abilities, proving that we can compete and excel at any level. Strong collaborative relationships and unwavering community support were critical to our success, motivating us to give it our all every step of the way."


IEN’s Corporate Engagement Challenge is a semester-long program that includes education, mentorship, and hands-on investment and engagement strategy development for undergraduate and graduate students. 


“Today's students will soon enter the workforce and inherit an economy under threat from systemic risks driven by climate change and extreme inequality,” said Georges Dyer, Co-Founder and Executive Director at The Intentional Endowments Network. “Their understanding of these risks and the need to create new, sustainable business models is essential to ensure a stable and thriving future. Once again, this year's teams demonstrated amazing talent and creativity in proposing engagement strategies that can both drive positive change and enhance business value.” 


"We’re delighted to have won the competition — it feels that all of our stock sheets, our graphs, and early-morning meetings have come to fruition,” said Sparsh Sharma and Jerrod Rabenbauer, members of the winning undergraduate team from the University of Southern California. “From day 1 of the competition, we sought to pay utmost care to recommending an investment that was realistic and impactful. It was with this self-imposed criteria that we think we’ve squeezed out the maximum from the competition, in regards to gaining real experience in using ESG analysis, setting our investment priorities, and crafting deliverables. It was teamwork that ultimately propelled us both to win."


Active engagement with portfolio companies on material ESG issues is an increasingly important aspect of investing and good fiduciary practice. According to the annual shareholder engagement report, Proxy Preview, “Particularly notable over time has been the reduction in resolutions about board diversity and ESG pay links—likely because so many companies now address both issues. What is new is an increasing focus on the ways in which ESG plays out in the nuts and bolts of investment practices, often in institutional investor approaches to and disclosures about proxy voting.”


“Shareholder engagement continues to be a powerful tool to hold corporations accountable for their real-world impacts, especially when these impacts extend to the climate crisis and environmental justice issues,” said Bella Alvarez, Program Associate at The Intentional Endowments Network. “The students that participated in the Challenge demonstrated that these issues will continue to be important to the next generation of investors and stakeholders at large.”


The judges of the 2024 Challenge selected finalists from the cohort of teams based on the creativity of their strategy, the potential for real-world impact as a result of their engagement strategy, and their comprehensive valuation and ESG assessment of chosen companies. 



To receive a copy of the winning team’s presentations, or interview any of the participating teams and/or members of the IEN Team, contact Bella Alvarez, (508) 857 9968, [email protected]



The Intentional Endowments Network (IEN) encourages and supports higher education institutions to adopt investment strategies that create an equitable, low- carbon, and regenerative economy. IEN connects endowments, asset managers, investment consultants, nonprofit partners, and individuals, including a community of over 200 active members, to connect with peers, stay up to date on the latest best practices, develop partnerships, and advance the field of mission-aligned, sustainable investing.

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