The Board of Trustees at Unity College in Maine has voted to divest their endowment from fossil fuel industries. Now, the Harvard College Undergraduate Council has announced they want Harvard University to divest its $30.7 billion endowment from fossil fuels.
Most American academic institutions, such as colleges and universities, function in part off of financial endowments. A financial endowment is a transfer of money and/or property donated to an institution. The total value of an institution’s investments is often referred to as the institution’s endowment and is typically organized as a public charity, private foundation, or trust. The endowments finance portions of the operating or capital requirements of the institution.
Getting colleges and universities to divest in big oil companies like ExxonMobil, Chevron, and Shell, companies that pulled in $100 million in profits yearly, in a monumental task.
While Harvard has not to date divested in fossil fuel companies, the university has made what they call a “social choice fund” in response to the student movement. Contributions to the new fund, which will be established as of July 1, 2013, will be invested in one or more mutual funds selected and approved by Corporation Committee on Shareholder Responsibility. According to the release, there will probably be no minimum gift amount.
An interesting work around that allows donors to contribute without having their money go towards the fossil fuel industry.
Andrew Meggison was born in the state of Maine and educated in Massachusetts. Andrew earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Government and International Relations from Clark University and a Master’s Degree in Political Science from Northeastern University. Being an Eagle Scout, Andrew has a passion for all things environmental. In his free time Andrew enjoys writing, exploring the great outdoors, a good film, and a creative cocktail. You can follow Andrew on Twitter @AndrewMeggison