Student Association and University Leaders Announce the Creation of a Sustainable Investment Fund

The Sustainable Investment Fund is a Student Association-driven initiative focused on responsible investment and student engagement.

February 26, 2018

Kogan Plaza

The Student Association, in conjunction with university leaders, announced Monday the creation of a new Sustainable Investment Fund (SIF). The Student Association-driven initiative will allocate money from the university endowment toward responsible investment vehicles. As part of a larger responsible investment approach, the fund will promote and produce innovation in sustainable practices and seek to avoid investments in the top coal, oil and gas companies.

As approved by the George Washington University Board of Trustees’ Subcommittee for Endowment and Investments, GW will establish the SIF with an initial $2 million from the university endowment. The SIF will be informed by a Committee for Sustainable Investment with significant student involvement, seeking to engage stakeholders on issues relevant to responsible investing.

The SIF was created in response to strong student support for sustainable investing. The SIF aims to identify and invest in strategies that generate and sustain long-term environmental, social, governance (ESG) value as well as economic value. By adhering to ESG principles in the investment strategy, the SIF will not only mitigate negative ESG impacts but also support solutions to complex problems in these areas. 

Investment criteria will be guided by sustainable environmental practices, including but not limited to climate change mitigation, renewable energy technologies, abatement of pollution and environmental justice. The SIF will seek to avoid Carbon Underground 200 companies. CU 200 is defined as the top 100 coal and top 100 oil and gas publicly traded reserve holders globally, ranked by the potential carbon emissions content of their reported reserves. 

The fund will provide a platform for socially-conscious giving and will have the potential to grow through fundraising and donor contributions. The payout from the fund will be designated toward the university’s student financial aid budget. The initiative is planned to begin this academic year.

Student Association President Peak Sen Chua said sustainability is front and center of student advocacy at GW. This commitment to sustainability supports student voices and provides a new avenue to invest in GW’s future.

“The creation of the Sustainable Investment Fund is the result of months of Student Association advocacy and years of student activism,” Mr. Chua said. “As a responsible investment fund created out of the existing endowment, we are excited about the impact it will have on the GW community and the significant role of student voices in guiding our university’s commitment to sustainability.”

Student Association leaders proposed the fund to GW President Thomas LeBlanc last fall.

“Our students made clear to me early in my presidency the importance of sustainable investments, and I am grateful to the Student Association for bringing me the SIF proposal,” Dr. LeBlanc said. “This type of leadership is precisely what I expect from GW students. I would also like to thank university staff members and the Board of Trustees for supporting this student initiative and its continued success.”

The SIF will be managed by Strategic Investment Group. The Student Association will work with university administration to ensure the responsibilities and expectations of the Committee for Sustainable Investment are well defined. The committee will receive socially responsible investment ideas from students and report on these issues to Strategic Investment Group. 

The investment fund joins other efforts to promote sustainability on GW’s campus. The university celebrates two years of full operation with the Capital Partners Solar Project this month, a renewable energy project that has made GW 50 percent solar-powered. As part of this partnership with Duke Energy Renewables, GW Hospital and American University, GW contributed to building 243,000 solar panels on three sites in North Carolina.