Spring successes, summer trainings, and more

Ethical Markets SRI/ESG News

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As colleges are holding their graduations over the next few weeks, and students are heading off for the summer, I am proud to say that students REC has worked with have had success and gained experience on campus, and are leaving college to do many things following in the theme of REC’s work.

As a quick example, Molly Gott who is graduating Washington University in St. Louis, a superstar organizer for responsible investing on her campus who has helped implement their committee on investor responsibility its first year, and promoted community investing nationally, is going on to work for Missourians Organizing for Reform and Empowerment, fighting for social and economic justice in Missouri.

Over the next month, watch your inbox for more stories from students and alumni working on encouraging responsible investing on campus. We’ll include clips from Nobel Laureate Joseph Stiglitz and Director of Oakland Institute Anuradha Mittal who spoke at our fundraiser, Endow the Future, in February.

Over the past year, students have been challenging their colleges’ investment practices and making headway, on community investing and challenging bad practices at big banks, promoting responsible proxy voting, on shareholder engagement at companies like 3M, and challenging dirty coal and investments in unsustainable and inhumane agriculture investments in Africa. Together, we’re making a lot of progress.

From Harvard and Middlebury to UNC-Chapel Hill and UCLA students are demanding that colleges endowments be invested responsibly, and REC is helping them to organize and implement responsible investing. If you are planning to donate to your college or university at this time of year, consider withholding your contribution and telling them, “We want our endowment invested responsibly!”

Can you, in addition to asking your school to invest responsibly, make a tax-deductible contribution to support the important work of moving $400 billion in endowments towards responsible investing?

In the rest of this newsletter, learn a little bit more about what we’ve been doing, thinking, and planning!

Dan & The REC Team

REC held a major fundraiser and celebration on February 15; with over 200 attendees, a jazz band, amazing speakers, and lively discussion the night was a hit! Thank you so much to all who came.

Highlights from the evening:
•    Professor Joseph Stiglitz gave an engaging talk, Imagining a Responsible Financial Sector: How Investors, Students, and the Rest of Us Could Help Solve the Problems of the Big Banks, and fielded questions on colleges’ role in the financial system.
•    Students Molly Gott and Arturo Jaras Watts spoke on their exciting responsible investment campaigns on campus and what this work means to them.
•    REC honored Anuradha Mittal and the Oakland Institute for research in unveiling land investment deals in Africa which revealed a pattern of a lack of transparency and accountability amongst investors.

Victories for transparency have taken place at Colby College in Maine and at the University of North Florida! At Colby, pressure from the Occupy Colby student movement has opened up Colby’s direct holdings to the community, while at UNF, their Values Integration Task Force has recommended the implementation of endowment transparency measures as a way of aligning the school’s values with its activities. Bravo to both institutions on their leadership!

Look for new Move Our Money campaign success stories soon!

 

REC’s Summer Organizing Retreats are coming — and this year, for the first time, we’re holding two of them! Come join us down by the Jersey shore in late July and early August, or in Wisconsin on Lake Michigan at the end of the summer, and learn how to make change happen at your school. Last year we had a blast, and this year will be better than ever. The cost is sliding scale $0-$300, no one will be turned away. Apply before May 31 for the best shot at funding!

Northeast Summer Organizing Retreat 2012  July 29 — August 4, 2012
Where: Lakona Harbor, NJ — within two hours of NYC and Philadelphia by car, and also fully accessible to both cities by public transit
Deadline: Early registration: May 31, Regular: June 25 (earlier registrants are more likely to have access to funding)

Midwest Summer Organizing Retreat 2012  August 18 — 24, 2012
Where: Racine, WI — 45 minutes from Milwaukee or 2 hours from Chicago by car; also accessible via public transit
Deadline: Early registration: May 31, Regular: June 25 (earlier registrants are more likely to have access to funding)
More details to come — email us with any questions.

The SRI Conference on Sustainable, Responsible, Impact Investing (formerly SRI in the Rockies) is gathering at the Mohegan Sun Conference Center October 2 – 4, 2012. Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. will be joining Nestlé Waters North America CEO, Kim Jeffery, to discuss corporate responsibility and 21st Century waste recovery challenges.  Ceres’ Mindy Lubber and the World Business Academy’s Rinaldo Brutoco will engage in a lively conversation on the topic of “Sustainable Capitalism”.  The SRI Conference is honored that Mohegan Tribal Chief, Lynn Malerba, will join other Native leaders to discuss Indian sovereignty, gaming as a revenue stream, and community development among Indian nations. Registration and sponsorship information available.  For questions, contact Krystala Kalil, [email protected], 888.774.2663.

 

The campaign for divestment from coal and other fossil fuels continues. Our friends at the Sierra Student Coalition at UNC–Chapel Hill, continue their campaign: The Daily Tar Heelstopped short of outright endorsement, but rallied behind the students calling for more of a say in creating responsible investment at their school. Campaigns at Earlham, theUniversity of Illinois — Urbana Champaign, and a growing number of campuses across the country are moving forward, too, in this exciting new chapter of real sustainability and environmental justice in higher ed. At Swarthmore CollegeSwarthmore Mountain Justice’s fossil fuel divestment campaign continues to get great press:

At Harvard University, students have been working on a responsible investment campaign that has been gaining national attention! Check out some of their awesome press coverage here:

Check out all of this and much more on our blog >>

   

REC is hiring! Martin Bourqui, REC’s National Organizer of the past two years, will sadly be leaving us at the end of the summer. The hiring process for REC’s new National Organizer has already begun, and we’ve received some fabulous applications, but it’s not too late to apply. Check out the job description here, forward widely, and get those applications in by May 20.

REC’s in the Huffington Post! Check out our recent pieces:

The Anti-Big Bank Movement continues to grow, and community leaders continue to call for ethical banking. REC is proud to be moving this work forward on college campuses! Check out the shareholder meeting actions and money-moving calls that have been taking place this Spring.  We also commend our allies, Rainforest Action Network and the Unity Alliance, which includes labor and immigrant rights organizations, protesting at the Bank of America shareholder meeting in Charlotte, NC.

Tellus Institute’s “Errors of Omission” was released recently, highlighting conflicts of interest across the board at prestigious Massachusetts universities — particularly with schools investing in funds affiliated with officers on their own Boards of Trustees. Should colleges be soliciting donations to be invested in trustee-affiliated funds — especially when those connections are often hidden?