Seventeen Foundations to Invest in Renewables, Divest from Fossil Fuels

This blog was originally posted on Philanthropy Northwest's website.

Seventeen foundations, including Philanthropy Northwest member The Russell Family Foundation, have united around a mission investing agenda to deepen their investments in clean energy by divesting from fossil fuels. Through the new Divest-Invest Philanthropy project, announced on January 30, these foundations are aligning themselves with both a broader mission investing movement as well as a growing grassroots movement to persuade large institutional investors to align their financial power with their intentions to reduce climate change.

Richard Woo, CEO of The Russell Family Foundation, said, “For generations, the Pacific Northwest has been fertile ground for innovation and trailblazing from new economic models to sustainable communities and strategic philanthropy. Divest-Invest Philanthropy offers foundations the opportunity to blend all three of those elements to ensure the well-being of future generations.”

The initiative was covered today in the New York Times, where Woo said, “Freeing up resources through the divestment allows us to concentrate on the renewables future and to really see the marketplace as a platform for this kind of change.”

Ellen Dorsey and Richard N. Mott of the Wallace Global Fund also penned a piece introducing the Divest-Invest movement, its history and intentions in the Huffington Post, in which they call up on their foundation colleagues to “Assess; Consult; Commit: Assess the extent of fossil energy holdings in your investment portfolio. Consult with trustees and staff on a strategy for shifting assets out of the problem and into the solutions. And Commit, to an endpoint and timetable commensurate with the urgency of the climate crisis.”

The Divest-Invest Philanthropy website contains a variety of resources for foundations interested in learning more about fossil fuel divestment. Here at Philanthropy Northwest, we were pleased to note that our own Mission Investors Exchange 2014 National Conference, coming up this May 13-15 in Minneapolis, MN, was featured prominently. Given the conference’s twin themes of climate change and income inequality, we’re sure that Divest-Invest Philanthropy will be a hot topic of conversation and we’re looking forward to engaging in the dialogue with you.

Jon Stahl is Communications Director at Philanthropy Northwest.

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