Summer 2020 Newsletter

Since our last newsletter reached your inbox in May, the crises we face in our work and lives have deepened. The opportunities for us to build resilience and reimagine what comes next are expanding, and feeling more urgent than ever. Over the last several months, IEN members have shown that resilience and imagination, signing on to the Belonging Pledge and other calls to action on racial justice; defending the use of ESG strategies in retirement plans against a proposed rule change from the Department of Labor; starting conversations on Net Zero Portfolio commitments, and starting to plan for a learning and action journey in the virtual year-long 2021 Higher Education Climate Leadership Summit. 

Just last week, IEN launched Investing in Racial Equity: A Primer for College and University Endowments. Led by consultant Jochebed Bogunjoko, IEN Project Manager Kaede Kawauchi, and a team of experts from across the Network, this resource provides critical information and tools for endowments to put their commitments into action. We look forward to hearing more about your progress, and how IEN members can support you.

Warm regards,

The IEN Team

Member Posts: Perspectives on Racial Equity in Endowment Investing

How do endowments and investment firms translate a commitment to racial equity into action? Read recent member posts, and follow the series here:

 

Spotlight: Investing in Racial Equity: A Primer for College & University Endowments

Closing the racial wealth gap has the potential to add over a trillion dollars to the U.S. economy, adding to consumer spending and tax revenues as the nation becomes increasingly diverse. Racial equity investing both mitigates systemic risks in the economy and provides a financial return to investors.

Racial equity investing also offers higher education leaders an opportunity to go beyond educating students of color, to investing in them, their futures, their communities, and a societal system that is more equitable. A clear commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion from Trustees, Boards and Presidents, across all sectors of the university including endowment management will lead to institutional resilience and relevance, as these issues directly affecting the lives of the majority of high school aged students today will affect the endowment performance and the business model of higher ed.

Read the full report here, and then watch the first in a series of webinars on how to operationalize the report’s call to action.

 

Coming Soon: 2021 Higher Ed Climate Leadership Summit

Reimagining Higher Education: A Year of Knowledge to Action for Recovery, Response, and Resilience

The Summit will be transformed into a year-long journey of learning and action, with preview materials as early as this fall and a full virtual Summit kick-off event in February 2021, continuing through milestone events in Spring and Fall 2021, and closing with reflection and reviewing achievements in December 2021. We plan to reconvene in person in early 2022, building off the year of action.

Join the Summit Design Committee: We are looking for members from across Second Nature and the Intentional Endowments Network community to design a new format and expanded content for the 2021 Higher Education Climate Leadership Summit. The deadline for nominations was extended to close of business today - please nominate yourself or a colleague using this form.

You can also read a recap of the 2020 Summit here, as well as a recap of the Higher Education Equitable and Clean Economy Opportunity Zone Workshop which took place at the Summit.

 

Action Highlight 

The Belonging Pledge: in partnership with Confluence Philanthropy and other peer networks, we are supporting endowments in making the simple pledge to put racial equity on the agenda for the next investment committee meeting. Investors with over $1.78 trillion in assets have already signed on. Click here for details and contact Kaede@intentionalendowments.org to add your organization to the list. We are partnering on a Belonging Townhall event for signatories on Sept. 28th. 

See our curated list of investor sign-on statements for other opportunities for action.

 

Additional Updates from the Network 

New IEN Members

We are pleased to welcome the Iroquois Valley Farmland REIT, Sage Advisory, Mozaik Philanthropy, Mantle314, University of Arizona, University of Richmond, Federated Hermes, 1st Course Capital, and WWF to the Network! To learn more about the leadership opportunities and benefits of IEN membership, click here.

 

IEN Team News

Please join us in thanking IEN’s Summer 2020 interns for their powerful work in support of the network, and wish them well as the summer session ends this week: Cam Do, Jane Donohue, Gwladys Ngatchou, and Cinnamon Sanchez!

 

Webinars

Please join us for the following upcoming webinars:

Follow the link to view a recording of our most recent webinars:

In the coming weeks we will also be hosting webinars on Net Zero Asset Owners Alliance: Latest Methodologies for Net Zero Portfolios, with IEN’s Sustainable Retirements Initiative on Fiduciary Duty and Faculty/Staff Leadership, and virtual events at the HBCU Green Fund Summit and AASHE Conference - see our full event calendar here, and please let us know which topics you would most like to hear from members about in this year’s webinar series!

 

Online Peer Networking

We launched a series of Community Conversations on racial justice in June and July, including an open dialogue to explore steps organizations can be and are taking regarding organizational culture and structure; small group conversations exploring racial equity in the context of DEI in the investment industry and how endowments can leverage their influence for positive, systemic change; exploring how community impact investing might help address racial inequity; and delving deeper into strategies for investing with diverse owned asset managers.

We will also be hosting our next new member orientation Community Conversation on September 24th at 1pm ET - staff of new IEN member organizations (joined within the past 6 months) are invited to register here.

 

SIILK (Sustainable & Impact Investing Learning and Knowledge) Network

In the past few months, the SIILK Network has:

  • Announced the Winner of the Student Corporate Engagement Competition: Over the past academic year, student teams from across the U.S. participated in a first-of-its-kind student investment competition hosted by IEN. A panel of judges selected the team from the University of California, Berkeley as the inaugural winners of the SIILK Corporate Engagement Competition, for preparing the strongest investment recommendation and shareholder engagement strategy to improve company performance (and investment returns) through better environmental, social, and governance (ESG) practices. Learn more here.
  • Collected Information on Student-Managed Investment Funds: Does your college or university have a student-managed investment fund and/or sustainable investing focused courses? We would love to have you join the conversations that happen within SIILK. If interested in joining, or to help us ensure our database of student managed investment funds and sustainable investing focused courses is accurate, please fill out this form.
  • Selected our 2020 Fellow: We are pleased to share that since February, we have been working with our 2020 Fellow, Julia Maloney. Julia is a Master of Public Administration candidate at New York University’s Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service. She is specializing in Social Impact, Innovation, and Investment and is a co-chair of the Social Innovation and Investment Alliance. During her fellowship, Julia has been focused on our network-wide shareholder engagement work, including the development of a case study highlighting Warren Wilson College’s engagement work, and strategic development and coordination of our shareholder engagement working group. Learn more about our Fellowship Program here, including reflections from our 2019 Inaugural SIILK Network Fellow, Alicia Sidik.
  • Continued to Accept Applications for the SIILK Mentorship Program: If you are a student interested in learning more about the sustainable investing field and becoming a mentee, or a sustainable investing professional at an IEN member institution interested in becoming a mentor, you are welcome to participate. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis here.
  • Connected on Monthly Calls: On calls each month during the academic year, students, faculty, staff, and industry practitioners connect to share their experiences around student managed investment funds and sustainable finance curriculum. Watch recent presentations by Bentley University and Northeastern University, or all past recorded presentations here.

If you are interested in learning more about the above programs or connecting with stakeholders to share best practices and advance the development of sustainably invested student-managed funds and sustainable finance curriculum, please reach out to Nicole at nicole@intentionalendowments.org.

 

Sustainable Retirements: ESG Options for Retirement Plans

Since our last newsletter, we are thrilled to welcome Federated Hermès and Gitterman Wealth Management to the group of supporters of our Sustainable Retirements initiative along with Natxis and Schroders. 

In the spring, we held the first in a series of webinars on this topic, (recording available here), providing an overview of this topic. The group postponed its next webinar on Fiduciary Duty to the fall in light of the Department of Labor’s proposed rule that threatens to limit the inclusion of ESG options in ERISA covered plans. 

IEN’s Retirements and Fiduciary Duty groups provided supporting materials for IEN members to submit comments on this rule during the (very short) public comment period in July. These groups also submitted their own letters with special thanks to Alice DonnaSelva, Keith Johnson, and Chris Walker. Last week we joined a coalition of investor groups in sharing an analysis of the comments, which overwhelmingly showed investor opposition to this rule.

The Retirements initiative was also highlighted on TheIMPACT program on Fintech.TV in June, reaching tens of thousands of investment advisors, through a conversation with Jeff Gitterman of Gitterman Wealth, Sarah Bratton of Schroders, Jim Roach of Natixis, and Georges Dyer of IEN. 

If you’re interested in staying up to date on related news and receive updates on this work, use this link to join our IEN’s Sustainable Retirements Google Group. 

If you are interested in your institution offering ESG options in its retirement plans, please contact Chris Walker at chris@intentionalendowments.org to get involved.  Supported by Natixis, Federated Hermès, Gitterman Wealth Management, and Schroders 

 

Working Groups

IEN Working Groups meet regularly to advance key strategies in support of the network's goals. Please contact an IEN team member to get involved:

  • Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Working Group: The group was proud to launch Investing in Racial Equity: A Primer for College & University Endowments last week. We continue to organize calls every 1-2 months to exchange resources and collaborate for action on advancing DEI lens integration in endowment investing practices, including supporting endowments to follow the new primer's Call to Action. If you are interested in participating in this group, please reach out to Kaede at kaede@intentionalendowments.org.
  • Fiduciary Duty & Policy Working Group: In addition to working with IEN’s Sustainable Retirements Initiative participants on responses to the Department of Labor’s proposed rule on ESG (described above), the Fiduciary Duty Working Group is continuing to develop a training program for boards of trustees at colleges and universities to help them understand portfolio risk related to two key challenges facing us today - climate change and social inequity. IEN is currently seeking sponsors to take the training program forward; if you are interested in sponsoring this work, please reach out to Alice at alice@intentionalendowments.org.
  • Trustee Peer Group: The trustee peer group has been sharing insights on the governance and implementation processes for sustainable investing by endowments, and connecting with peers on other Boards that are undertaking these processes. If you are a trustee and interested in participating in this group, please reach out to Georges at georges@intentionalendowments.org
  • Shareholder Engagement Working Group: Members continue to highlight opportunities for investor action around companies' environmental, social, and governance issues (particularly related to the current racial justice movement and public health crisis), collaborative initiatives focused on influencing companies on social equity and climate action, and advocacy work around pending SEC regulations limiting shareholder rights.  Please reach out to Alice at alice@intentionalendowments.org if you are interested in participating in this work.

 

Upcoming Events

IEN Events:

Other Events:

To view more upcoming events, click here.

 

Featured Resources

Below are some recent resources from the Intentional Endowments Network and other organizations. To see more reports, articles, videos and other resources by topic, visit the resource page on our website.

Resources from IEN:

Other Resources:

 

In the News

Below is a sampling of recent news articles we've posted in our Weekly News Round-Up, ranging in topics from Sustainable, Impact and ESG Investing, Climate Risk, Science & Regulation, Sustainability in Higher Education, Divestment, Clean Energy, and more. To receive news updates directly in your inbox, manage your mailing preferences here.

IEN in the News:

Read more coverage of the network here

Other News:

Read coverage of recent announcements by higher education endowments about their progress aligning their investments with institutional goals:

View past issues of IEN’s weekly news summary online here.

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