SCC’s recent event Owning the New Economy Conference featured inspired dialogue from voices across the divestment spectrum including student, financial experts and longtime activists. As well as a forum for building both divestment campaigns and a broader sustainable economy, it was the launching point for a new and powerful divestment tool that has the potential to re-shape the endowment-debate!
The Responsible College Fund is a dynamic combination of policy reform and direct action. The RCF empowers potential donors to college endowments to insist on a sustainable future. Essentially, it is a fund that Donors pay into, which then holds the donation for the school. The climate-justice-catch is that for five years, only a small percentage of that money is released. Before that time is up, the institution must be committed to a fully transparent plan for divestment, and re-investment in community development that is consistent with the “United Nations Principles for Responsible Investment and the Investor Network on Climate Risk.” If such a plan is not in place, the college won’t receive another cent until they meet the fund’s conditions.
This strategy represents an entirely new way of interacting with the extremely large forces that divestment campaigns are trying to influence. It says that not only is it catastrophic to continue to support dirty fuel sources, but it will hurt your bottom-line directly. This fund can give a meaningful voice to what donors want their gift to represent, and has the potential to positively reshape the relationship between colleges and their endowments.
- Blair Rancich