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Foundations launch Divest-Invest Philanthropy

Seventeen foundations, with nearly $2 billion in assets under management, have pledged to divest their portfolios from fossil-fuel companies and to invest in a new clean energy economy. Launched in January 2014, the initiative, known as Divest-Invest Philanthropy, includes the Russell Family Foundation, the Educational Foundation of America, the Park Foundation, the Schmidt Family Foundation, and Wallace Global Fund.  The John Merck Fund is the largest foundation in the group.  

The country's universities and colleges have been the initial focal point for fossil-fuel divestment campaigns, at the urging of organizations such as, Energy Action Coalition, Responsible Endowments Coalition, the Sierra Student Coalition, and Students for a Just and Stable Future, and numerous student organizations.  Nine colleges and universities, 22 cities, two countries, 20 religious organizations, and six other institutions have committed to rid themselves of investments in the top 200 coal, oil, and gas companies, as measured by their proved carbon reserves.

Ellen Dorsey, executive director of the Wallace Global Fund, explained to The New York Times, “At a minimum, our grants should not be undercut by our investments. If you owned fossil fuels in your investment portfolio, it became increasingly clear to foundations that they own climate change, and they’re potentially profiting from those investments.”  

The foundation announcement provides additional momentum to the wider divestment movement, while simultaneously developing a more proactive stance on investing in a low-carbon, clean energy economy.

Croatan Institute is advising the Divest-Invest Philanthropy initiative.

For more information on fossil-free investing, visit Institutional Pathways to Fossil-free Investing and "Institutional Pathways to Fossil-Free Investing: Endowment Management in a Warming World."

See also, Ellen Dorsey, "Philanthropy Rises to the Fossil Divest-Invest Challenge," Huffington Post, January 30, 2014.

Source: Diane Cardwell, "Foundations Band Together to Get Rid of Fossil-Fuel Investments, " New York Times, January 29, 2014.