Over the past year, much of my work has focused on an emerging new project aimed at supporting colleges and universities to better-align their endowment investment practices with their mission and values.
In April we held a summit in Boston -- the Intentionally Designed Endowment conference -- that brought together 120 leaders, including senior administrators from higher ed, endowment managers, investment firms, experts on sustainable investing and fiduciary responsibility, and non-profit executives.
The event was designed to create a highly-interactive, 'safe-space' to talk through the full range of issues and potential strategies for integrating sustainability and environmental, social, and governance (ESG) criteria into endowment investment portfolios.
The fossil fuel divestment movement has been driven in large part by student leadership on college campuses. While many colleges have resisted calls to divest, it has opened up important conversations about if and how institutional mission and values should be incorporated into endowment investing policies and practices. At the same time, as the ESG / sustainable investing space has matured, it has become more common for investors to recognize that sustainability challenges can affect the value of companies and projects, and consequently pose material risks to their portfolios.
Given these complex and rapidly changing dynamics, participants of the event expressed a clear need for more forums like it, and other ways to continue the conversation and learning on these topics. In response, we've been developing the Intentional Endowments Network.
Our website has presentations and videos from the conference, a resource library with reports and articles on key topics, and a news feed for relevant media coverage:
We are currently in the process of developing a strategic plan for this exciting new initiative, while at the same time developing tangible actions, including webinars, another Intentionally Designed Endowments conference in the Southwest, a student-focused conference, workshops and sessions at other conferences, new resources, and strategic engagements with individual institutions.
Please visit the website and share your thoughts.