Summer 2021 Newsletter


As we enjoy the summer breeze and fulfill our travel plans, we remain mindful and cautious of the excessive heat and emerging virus variants. For these reasons and many more, we are determined in our efforts to achieve climate justice and racial equity.

In this summer newsletter, we share a Net Zero briefing paper to help endowments understand the concept of a net-zero portfolio, a retirement guide with a “how-to” for Plan Sponsors on adding ESG funds to retirement plans, and an invitation to gather virtually as a network in October.

We’re equally thrilled to announce that the 2022 Higher Education Climate Leadership Summit will be in-person (with a virtual component) on February 6-8, 2022 at the University of Miami, Florida. Abstract submissions deadline on August 31st, submit your proposal today!


Warm regards,

The IEN Team

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IEN Q&A: How to Make a “Net Zero Endowment” Net Positive for Racial Justice
Amrita Sareen, IEN’s Senior Advisor in this post interviews three industry specialists (see below) to gain insight on the evolving landscape and potential opportunities of addressing net-zero strategies with a racial equity lens.
  • Tamara Larsen, Executive Director at Agility
  • Jeffrey Mindlin, VP & Chief Investment Officer at ASU Enterprise Partners
  • Rachel J. Robasciotti, Founder & CEO at Adasina Social Capital

While many endowments recently announced targets towards net-zero portfolios, a growing number of market practitioners realize the strategic imperative to address net-zero strategies with a racial equity lens. An inclusive and just approach in transitioning to net zero not only provides positive social impact but could result in broader economic benefits and ultimate value to bottom-line returns. Furthermore, investors who ignore the racial equity links to addressing climate change, restrict their portfolio’s access to meaningful net-zero investment opportunities, thereby constraining returns, according to some market experts.

As investors contemplate the idea of net-zero portfolios with a racial equity lens, the Intentional IEN continues to further the conversation and educate stakeholders on this strategic intersection. Read the full interview here and learn more about the Net Zero initiative here

Spotlight: Climate Action Pursuit and 2022 Higher Ed Climate Leadership Summit
The October Climate Action Pursuit will be here soon! More than 700 registrants came together to dive deeper into their climate and equity conversations in the June Milestone. You can review brief summaries of all of the June sessions in the event platform here, and registered participants can log in to view recordings there as well.

You can still register! If you register between now and October 7th, you will gain access to the February and June session recordings and have full access to programming in the upcoming October, and December milestones. The October Milestone will provide you with step-by-step inclusive process tools for purchasing offset portfolios and workshops on ways to include communities in investment decisions.

We’re equally excited to announce that the annual Higher Education Climate Leadership Summit, co-hosted by Second Nature and the Intentional Endowments Network (IEN), will be on February 6-8, 2022, in Miami, Florida! Submit your session proposals before August 31st, 2021
Updates from the Network
New IEN Members

We are pleased to welcome Atom Investor, Consilium Investment Management East bay Foundation, EIRIS Conflict Risk Network, GSSG Solar, SHARE, and ISS ESG to the Network! To learn more about the leadership opportunities and benefits of IEN membership, click here.

IEN Team News

Last June, Hannah Bowen transitioned out of her role as Director of Event and Communications to lead a nonprofit in Beverly, MA. We’re grateful for Hannah’s continued work with the network and you’re welcome to stay in touch with Hannah here.

We welcomed Julia Parker as the new Managing Director of IEN. Julia is a native of Omaha, Nebraska and has worked in both the public and private sector in community development, impact investing and technology. Julia will be working with Georges Dyer, our co-founder on the leadership team of IEN

This summer, we had the opportunity to work with Marie Atsuko Gray, Rina Lakhlani, Siobhan Pender and Tharun Reddy Pesara. They have been a great addition and support to the team through their time with us and shared what they’ve learned in our blog. You’re welcome to learn more about their experience with IEN here.

We are actively recruiting a new Membership Manager - please review and circulate the job description here.

Recent Webinars

IEN Members can access the following recent webinars through our member-only archive:

Upcoming Events

Please join us for our upcoming IEN events:

Other Events

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!


IEN's Focus Areas
SIILK (Sustainable & Impact Investing Learning & Knowledge) Network
  • SIILK (Sustainable & Impact Investing Learning & Knowledge) Network: In May, student teams from Arizona State University, Dartmouth College Tuck School of Business, University of California Haas School of Business, and University of Chicago participated in the SIILK Corporate Engagement Competition. Each team worked from February to April to produce both a written investment recommendation in a publicly-traded company listed on any major exchange, and a proposed shareholder engagement strategy that aligned with IEN’s Social Equity and Climate Goals. The student team from Arizona State University (ASU) was selected as this year’s winner. The ASU Team proposed an investment in BlackRock, Inc., chosen for its financial reliability, strong ESG performance with material topics, competitiveness as an industry leader, commitment to racial justice, and opportunity to reduce its risks. We had a quiet summer but the SIILK programming will resume when students are back on campus in September. Learn more and get involved with SIILK programming here.
  • IEN is also pleased to support the ESG For Impact Conference Scholarship. Qualified students and young professionals interested in a career in sustainable investing are encouraged to apply through September 1, 2021. See here for more information on the scholarship.


Supported by Federated Hermes

Sustainable Retirements: ESG Options for Retirement Plans
  • A panel of thought leaders held a session at the June milestone of the Climate Action Pursuit to discuss the “blind spot” that exists between organizations goals and the retirement investments they provide on behalf of their employees. The group also published a Guide to Sustainable Retirements with practical information for plan sponsors to address misconceptions related to the use of ESG funds in retirement plans. Learn more here about joining the Sustainable Retirements Initiative.

Supported by Natixis, Federated Hermes, and Schroders

Net Zero Endowments
  • The Net Zero Endowments Steering Committee released a Net Zero Briefing Paper with an introductory, high-level overview of net zero portfolio commitments, and is currently working on a more in-depth white paper focused on taking an intersectional approach to net-zero and racial justice. Members of the committee will represent the initiative at the finance panel during NYC Climate Week and the group is planning a series of webinars and workshops on net zero in the runup to COP26 in November. Within the past months, ASU made it's Net Zero statement public, University of Waterloo committed to achieving carbon neutrality by 2040, and UTAM joined more than 450 investors in signing a joint statement urging leaders to accelerate action to address climate change. We encourage more endowments to commit to Net Zero Portfolios and join this initiative. Visit the Net Zero Endowments webpage for details and to get involved!

Supported by Wellington Management, ISS ESG, and Adasina Social Capital

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
  • IEN’s DEI Initiative brought DEI focused sessions to the June milestone of the Climate Action Pursuit such as a conversation with Dr. Davarian Baldwin, a Paul E Raether Distinguished Professor of American Studies at Trinity College, to discuss approaches to building equitable relationships with communities beyond the campus gates through several action areas including endowment investing. As part of our Racial Equity Investing Webinar Series, we also hosted two more workshops – one on the Ins and Outs of Designing a Racial Equity Portfolio and another one on Creating Racial Equity Standards for Investing. Many of these activities were made possible by the members of IEN’s DEI Working Group that continue to meet quarterly to facilitate learning and collaboration to help the network make progress on DEI. Learn more here about joining this community, participating in joint work, or sponsoring.

Supported by Prime Buchholz and Global Endowment Management

Fiduciary Duty & Policy
  • The Fiduciary duty working group submitted a comment letter to the SEC on June 14th regarding Climate Change Disclosure rules. The letter called for improved disclosure standards to help investors fulfill their fiduciary duty to consider and reduce the risks associated with climate change and other ESG issues. The group continues to share the latest developments and best practices for fiduciaries regarding mission-aligned, sustainable investing. Learn more here about participating in this working group.
Shareholder Engagement
  • With a very successful proxy voting season and preparations underway for ongoing corporate engagement in 2021-2022, the Shareholder working group shares a member - Warren Wilson College (“WWC”)- work in partnership with IEN and As You Sow (As You Vote) in adopting a robust climate change strategy that actively promotes racial and gender equity in their businesses. As You Vote, is a new proxy voting service by shareholder engagement leader and is collaborating with As You Sow on creating a curriculum to prepare students to understand the power of and gain the skills for active corporate engagement to prepare them as leaders for the future. Learn more here about participating in this work.
Trustee Peer Group
  • Members of the trustee peer group attended the Presidents & Trustee session during the June Pursuit Milestone to learn about new models for action from peers, and create recommendations for how institutions can lead action on climate, relying on unique institutional strengths. Learn more here about participation in the Trustee Peer Group.
Featured Resources
Resources from IEN

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.

Other Resources from the Field
In the News
IEN 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 every Friday, manage your mailing preferences here.

IEN in the News:

Read more coverage of the network here

Recent Announcements About Higher Education Endowments Aligning Their Investments with Institutional Goals

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

  • Arizona State University: ASU Foundation commits to transition its investment portfolio to at least Net Zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2035.
  • District of Columbia Retirement Board: Washington Councilmember Robert White introduced legislation requiring the District of Columbia Retirement Board to have diverse asset managers and investment consultants.
  • New York State Pension Fund: The 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: Princeton 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: The federal government’s Thrift Savings 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: 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: UTAM 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: Sydney University adopts a Sustainable Investment Strategy to increase investment in sustainable solutions and exclude fossil fuel companies with inadequate transition plans from investment.
  • University of Utah: The 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: The 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: The Yale University Board of Trustees recently approved a new set of ethical investing guidelines for the university’s $31.2 billion endowment.

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

If you have an original piece you would like to submit for an upcoming newsletter, or for more information about the Intentional Endowments Network and how you can support this work, please contact Gwladys Ngatchou at [email protected].

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