Cambridge, MA – Alumni, parents, and students from universities across the country have launched a bold new Multi-School Fossil Free Divestment Fund. The Fund facilitates tax-deductible donations for those who would like to give to an educational institution but are hesitant because the institution invests in the environmentally, financially, and morally hazardous fossil fuel industry. The Fund will hold and invest donations until a school’s endowment:
Immediately freezes any new investment in fossil fuel companies and
Divests within five years from current holdings of fossil fuel companies.
For participating schools unable to stand up to fossil fuel companies by the end of 2017, their funds will go to participating schools that have divested. Morgan Curtis, a Dartmouth student, explains the timeline: “Back in 2011, the IEA [International Energy Agency], hardly a radical organization, found that 2017 was the cutoff for building any new fossil fuel infrastructure if we are to avoid catastrophic climate change. We haven’t even hit 1° C yet, and it’s already been disastrous and lethal, especially for those least responsible.”
The Fund allows parents, alumni, faculty, staff, students, and others to leverage their donations to help universities do the right thing. As Brandeis alumnus Naveh Halperin explains, “I want to give to Brandeis because I had an amazing experience there, but I can’t donate knowing they’re investing in morally unjust industries that undercut their mission to strive for social justice.” Since donations will go to other universities if a given university has not divested, the Fund creates a friendly competition to push for action at a level commensurate with the urgency and magnitude of the deepening climate crisis. “Money donated acts as a financial carrot, but if universities continue to support the rogue fossil fuel industry, those donations turn into a stick” says Chris Nidel, an MIT alumnus.
While financial contributions are important, the number of donors is equally powerful. College rankings are important for many institutions. Five percent of those rankings are derived from alumni giving, meaning even small donations matter. Boston College student David Corbie says he is “working on getting others to use their ‘senior gift’ as a way to encourage our school to stand up for climate justice.”
Fossil fuel divestment campaigns have been underway for years. Their aim is to stigmatize the fossil fuel industry and loosen the iron grip they have on our political and economic system. Hundreds of institutions–from schools and churches to public pensions and philanthropic foundations–participate in divestment. Many have already divested. The Fund, carefully designed over 18 months, adds one more arrow to the quiver in the fight for climate justice.
A sample tweet (with the right number of characters to allow for the image) is this:
Donate to @DivestFund Your Alma Mater receives the $ only when they stand up to #FossilFuels #divestfund.org
Thanks so much for your donation, spreading the word, and all the good work you do.
Peace and Justice,
The DivestFund team