Sustainable Investment Fund Shows Promise

One year after the fund was created, investment managers discussed the progress of the SIF.

April 12, 2019

Sustainable Investment Fund

University administrators and students discussed the Sustainable Investment Fund during a roundtable event. (William Atkins/GW Today)

Established last year as part of a George Washington University Student Association initiative, the Sustainable Investment Fund (SIF) is off to a good start, the fund’s managers said at a roundtable event on Monday.

Ron Klotter, managing director with Strategic Investment Group, which manages the SIF, said that the fund has been rising and falling with market trends, and the returns on investment have been good so far. While the profile is too new to fully judge its performance, Mr. Klotter said, the SIF is starting off well.

The SIF was established last year with an initial $2 million from the university endowment. Next year, the university will support students in establishing a Committee for Sustainable Investment to help create a space for dialogue around the SIF, according to Isabel Moody, Student Association vice president for sustainability.

“The fund really is an example of how students can have a say in what is happening in our university, and that these conversations can really extend to all of the endowment,” Ms. Moody said.

Monday’s event, held in the Marvin Center, aimed to give students an opportunity to hear how the fund is progressing and ask questions about the future of the fund. Meghan Chapple, director of the Office of Sustainability, said that the event was held to promote transparency and dialogue while also thinking about the future of investment at GW.

"There is opportunity for growth over time,” Ms. Chapple said of the fund. “The allocation is a starting point for GW to get familiar with a sustainable fund, see how it performs, and for students to learn how this works, as well.”

There are two underlying funds in which the SIF is invested: Pax Global Environmental Markets Fund and a treasury fund. Through Pax, which focuses on environment, social and governance (ESG) investing, the university invests in an array of companies working in water infrastructure and technology, waste management and pollution control.

GW Provost Forrest Maltzman said the SIF is a reflection of a GW education.

“This fund is something that the Student Association and Fossil Free GW started advocating the university and President [Thomas] LeBlanc to create and is one of many efforts on campus to promote sustainability ,” Dr. Maltzman said. "The goal here was to not only see what the university could do with sustainable investing, but also to make studying and understanding the fund part of a GW education."