Category Archives: Fair Harvard Fund

PRESS RELEASE: HARVARD STUDENTS AND ALUMNI INVEST SOCIALLY RESPONSIBLE FUND

HARVARD STUDENTS AND ALUMNI INVEST SOCIALLY RESPONSIBLE FUND

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Wednesday, April 10th, 2013

Contact: Krishna Dasaratha, dasaratha@college.harvard.edu, 703-589-8568

CAMBRIDGE, MA-The Responsible Investment at Harvard Coalition announced Wednesday that it had invested contributions from 450 donors in a socially responsible fund withheld from Harvard University. The Fair Harvard Fund, designed as an alternative endowment fund, will be invested in the Portfolio 21 Global Equity Fund.

“We are choosing Portfolio 21 because the fund fits our rigorous investment policies and has a demonstrated record of solid returns,” said Harvard undergraduate and investment committee member Michael Danto. “We are particularly impressed by their holistic approach to balancing environmental and social concerns with financial results.”

The Fair Harvard Fund was invested through the Responsible Endowments Coalition as the first partnership of the Responsible College Fund, a vehicle through which students and alumni at schools across the nation can invest withheld funds. Federal Street Advisors, a Boston-based investment consultant with a distinguished record in sustainable investing, is providing pro bono services to the Fair Harvard Fund, including helping to create an Investment Policy Statement, providing advice on asset allocation, and aligning the Fund’s mission and investment goals to find the selected fund manager.

“We hope students and alumni at more schools follow in investing responsibly through the Responsible College Fund,” Responsible Endowments Coalition Executive Director Dan Apfel said. “Students and alumni will find ways to invest their money responsibly, whether colleges’ want to help or not.”

The Fair Harvard Fund was created to encourage Harvard to create a social choice fund as an option for alumni donors. The university announced the creation of a social fund in December, but the Responsible Investment at Harvard Coalition is continuing to withhold the Fair Harvard Fund because Harvard administrators have not agreed to minimum standards for the social choice fund’s fiscal sustainability.

Responsible Investment at Harvard Coalition member Nicole Granath said, “The university has given no indications they will assign an employee to fundraise for the social choice fund or actively solicit donations. Moreover, the university’s decision to spend 20% of the fund each year raises questions about their commitment to the social choice fund’s long term success.”

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The Social Choice Fund in the Press

The Responsible Investment at Harvard Coalition, and the University’s decision to institute a social-choice fund, has attracted significant media attention in the past weeks:

The Harvard Crimson article on the Responsible Investment campaign was named the fifth most important Crimson story of the year!

Mother Jones published an article about divestment efforts, which was later reprinted in the British newspaper The Guardian, that featured the creation of the social-choice fund.

The independent Harvard Magazine framed the University’s decision to start a social-choice fund as a response to divestment efforts. Furthermore, the article notes the high level of student support for both divestment and the fund.

Open Media Boston quoted our own Krishna Dasaratha in an article about the divestment movement.

Lastly, Boston Public Radio produced a segment on the social-choice fund:

http://www.iradeo.com/dwilson/responsible-investment-at-harv

Response to Social Choice Fund Announcement

HARVARD STUDENTS CELEBRATE CREATION OF SOCIAL CHOICE FUND

Responsible Investment at Harvard Coalition Commits to Press On

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Thursday, December 15, 2012
Contact: Krishna Dasaratha, dasaratha@college.harvard.edu, 703-589-8568

CAMBRIDGE, MA—Harvard University will create a Social Choice Fund as an option for alumni donors by July 2013, the Harvard Gazette reported this morning.

This announcement follows a year-long campaign led by the Responsible Investment at Harvard Coalition advocating for the creation of a socially and environmentally responsible alternative for the $30.7 billion endowment. The growing group of students and alumni wants Harvard to become the leading responsible university endowment.

Last spring, it raised money from more than 400 people in less than 10 weeks for the Fair Harvard Fund, which the group describes as a monetary petition in support of a Social Choice Fund.

Harvard College junior Sam Wohns said, “We are thrilled that President Faust and Ms. Mendillo have agreed to create a historic, first of its kind Social Choice Fund with no minimum donation size. It’s an important first step on Harvard’s path toward becoming a socially and environmentally responsible, transparent, and accountable investor, and aligning the principles that guide our investment strategy with those that guide our research and education activities.”

Students know there is more work to do, however.

“It is important that Harvard presents the SCF as an option to donors whenever they solicit donations,” Harvard Kennedy School student Alexi White said. “It’s also essential that the SCF be managed transparently, so that the Harvard community can ensure that it remains true to its mission. We have an opportunity to inspire schools across the country to follow our example.  ”

“On behalf of the thousands of students, alumni, professors, and workers who have joined our movement in the last year, we look forward to meeting with the Corporation Committee on Shareholder Responsibility early next semester to discuss the details of the Fund,” Harvard College freshman Lindsey Claussaid. “At that point, we will determine whether the SCF meets the criteria for handing over the Fair Harvard Fund.”

 

HARVARD CONSIDERING CREATING A SOCIAL CHOICE FUND

CAMBRIDGE, MA, December 6, 2012—Yesterday, the Harvard Crimson reported that President Faust has asked the Harvard Corporation, the university’s highest governing body, to consider accepting the Fair Harvard Fund by creating a Social Choice Fund as an option for alumni donors within the endowment.

Members of the Corporation will meet with student advocates next semester to discuss their proposals.

“It is high time that the Harvard Management Company live up to our community’s high expectations of principled leadership and long-term sustainability, ” Responsible Investment at Harvard Coalition Co-Coordinator and Harvard junior Sam Wohns said.

“We look forward to meeting with the Corporation Committee on Shareholder Responsibility in January on behalf of the thousands of students, alumni, professors, and workers who want our endowment to become transparent, accountable, and socially and environmentally responsible,” Wohns said.

Harvard undergraduates overwhelmingly vote for Social Choice Fund

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

For more information, please contact:
Gabriel Bayard (Harvard College, Class of 2015) at 916-753-6118 or gbayard@college.harvard.edu

HARVARD STUDENTS VOTE FOR SOCIAL CHOICE FUND

CAMBRIDGE, MA, November 17, 2012—Results released this morning revealed 80.5% student approval for a Harvard College-wide referendum calling on the Harvard Management Company, which manages the university’s $30.7 billion endowment, to accept a fund adhering to responsible investment practices.

“This resounding endorsement from the student body demonstrates how important it is that Harvard not only educate us to be responsible citizens but also show responsibility in the entirety of its mission,” Lindsey Claus, Harvard ’16, said.

Four hundred and fifty students, alumni, and faculty have already contributed $11,200 to the Fair Harvard Fund, which is being held in escrow by the Responsible Investment at Harvard Coalition until Harvard agrees to accept it by creating a social choice fund as part of its endowment.

Since December 2011, the Coalition has advocated for the creation of a social choice fund which prioritizes investment opportunities that promote social good and yield high returns. Harvard administrators have stated that the university is considering establishing a social choice fund.

“Hopefully, our overwhelming student approval will encourage them to accept the $11,200 currently being withheld from our endowment,” Nicole Granath, Harvard ’15, the Co-Coordinator of the Responsible Investment at Harvard Coalition said.

Krishna Dasaratha, Harvard ’13, the Treasurer of the Responsible Investment at Harvard Coalition, said, “In the last two years, Harvard has allegedly committed capital to several socially irresponsible companies, including a hedge fund that engages in land grabs from small-hold farmers in Mozambique and a private equity fund accused of repeatedly mistreating hotel workers.”

“We hope an alternative can be established to incentivize more student and alumni donations to the university we love,” Camilla Gibson, Harvard ’15, said. “A social choice fund would yield high returns and produce positive social impact, aligning Harvard’s mission in the world with its investment strategy.”

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Fair Harvard Fund Visioning Session Notes

At the Future of Higher Education Endowments on November 9th, Initiative for Responsible Investment Senior Fellows Steve Lydenberg and Jay Youngdahl led a visioning session on the Fair Harvard Fund. We invited the Harvard community and the 450 Fair Harvard Fund donors to the session, where we discussed the fund’s Investment Beliefs. Thanks to Steve and Jay for leading the session, and to the Responsible Endowments Coalition and the Initiative for Responsible Investment for hosting the conference. Click here for the notes in PDF form.

Vote Yes for a Social Choice Fund!

The Undergraduate Council presidential election ballot next week also features three ballot referenda, asking the student body its opinion on important issues–including a social choice fund!

To support RI@Harvard and the Fair Harvard Fund, please vote YES  on Question 3 (check out the text below). You can also RSVP on Facebook here.

The creation of a social choice fund option–whose investment guidelines follow environmental, social, and corporate governance criteria for positive social impact–would prioritize investment opportunities which both promote social good and yield high returns.

Since the 1970s Harvard has faced several high-profile protest campaigns related to its investment practices. The management of the University’s $32 billion endowment has furthermore proven to be opaque, additionally undermining trust within our community.

Alumni, faculty, and student donors should be offered the option, when asked to contribute to Harvard’s endowment, of directing their gifts to a fund which takes into account social as well as fiduciary responsibility. A social choice fund would allow Harvard to build an endowment that is better for the University and for the world.

The Need for Sustainable Investment Now

Erika Karp,  Managing Director and Head, Global Sector Research, UBS Investment Bank, and a member of the Harvard Business School Executive Education  program on “Innovating for Sustainability,” wrote an article in Forbes on Nov. 8 titled “Sustainable Capitalism…If not now, then when?” She calls on companies to reform how they operate in order to be successful in the future through increased collaboration and more transparency by investing responsibly according to environmental, social and governance (ESG) criteria.

Read her article here.

Statement on August 1st Fair Harvard Fund Deadline

Four months ago, a group of students, faculty, staff, and alumni called the Responsible Investment at Harvard Coalition launched the Fair Harvard Fund. The Fair Harvard Fund seeks to motivate the Harvard Management Corporation to establish a Social Choice fund to invest donations in alignment with established environmental, social, and governance criteria. So far, nearly 450 students and alumni have donated $10,519 to the fund. This money is being withheld from the Harvard endowment until the Harvard Corporation and Harvard Management Company (HMC) agree to create a Social Choice fund so that alumni donors can give to Harvard and be sure that their money is being invested in a socially responsible manner.

When the fund was launched, RI@Harvard declared: “If the HMC has not created a Social Choice fund by August 1, 2012, the FHF will be invested according to environmental, social, and governance criteria by the Responsible Endowments Coalition (REC), a 501c3 non-profit organization, until the HMC accepts the money.”

In the past four months, we have spoken to many of Harvard’s top administrators about the Fair Harvard Fund. Despite indications that the creation of a Social Choice fund would be feasible, Harvard has given no indication that it is interested in receiving the contributions of these 450 donors. With one day left until the August 1st deadline, we sincerely hope that the Harvard Corporation will ask the HMC to accept the Fair Harvard Fund. If it does not, we will transfer the fund to the Responsible Endowments Coalition and begin the process of choosing a socially responsible investment manager.

In the meantime, the Fair Harvard Fund will continue to grow through donations (accepted at fairharvardfund.com) until Harvard decides to make a commitment to socially responsible investment and create a Social Choice fund. We hope the Harvard community will join us as we expand our efforts to encourage Harvard to create a Social Choice fund.