Produced by Equity Trust Inc.
This 26-page handbook is available in pdf format:
INTRODUCTION: Recent years have seen an exciting growth in the number of students concerned with the issues of poverty, economic injustice, and environmental degradation. This new level of student engagement with these global issues – perhaps most publicly illustrated with the 1999 protests against the World Trade Organization in Seattle – has led many students to get involved in campaigns to reform the policies and practices of governments, corporations, and international financial institutions. It has also led them to look critically at the economic policies of their own educational institutions – particularly those policies that determine how these institutions invest their often very large endowments.
Students at dozens of campuses across the country have launched campaigns to get their schools to adopt socially responsible investment. (SRI) policies that establish social and environmental criteria – in addition to existing financial criteria – to guide investment decisions. These campaigns have advocated primarily for policies that apply social and environmental criteria either to screen out investments in corporations that have one or another kind of negative impact on society or the environment or to influence the behavior of corporations through shareholder activism. Recently, however, students on a growing number of campuses have begun to insist not only that their schools avoid making investments that have negative effects but that they also place some portion of their endowment in proactive .community investments. At Williams, Wesleyan, Portland State, and Mt. Holyoke, among other campuses, students have initiated campaigns to encourage their schools to make such investments.
What do we mean by community investment? In brief, we mean the type of socially responsible investment that invests capital in projects and programs that directly address fundamental social and environmental problems. Most community investment today involves loans by socially concerned individuals and institutions to various types of .community development financial institutions. (CDFIs), which in turn make loans to support efforts that address problems of poor and disadvantaged households and communities. The purpose of this guide is to share the experiences of these student-led campaigns and to provide some basic information about the theory and practice of community investment, with the hope of encouraging other students to undertake community investment initiatives at their schools.
Equity Trust’s 26-page handbook on this topic is available in Adobe Acrobat format. Download here.