Tufts Launches Sustainability Fund

Focused on environmental, social and governance factors, it offers a new option for endowment giving

Tufts University has created a sustainability investment fund, which is now available for donors making new gifts of $25,000 or more to the university.

Donors concerned about environmental, social and governance factors can now designate that their endowment gifts be invested in the new Tufts University Sustainability Fund. They may, for example, create an endowed scholarship or professorship and have the money invested in the sustainability fund.

The Board of Trustees approved creation of the fund at its November 2014 meeting. Tufts recently launched the new fund with seed money from the university.

“Through this pilot fund, we will learn more about this kind of investment approach, with the goal that sustainable investing will expand in our endowment as we gain experience and confidence in these types of investment approaches,” says Laurie Gabriel, chair of the Trustee Investment Committee.

Exploring setting up such a fund was one of the recommendations of the Divestment Working Group established by President Anthony Monaco, which also examined the feasibility of divestment from fossil fuels and other ways that Tufts could mitigate climate change, both to advance the university’s goals and to test the feasibility of this kind of investment vehicle.

Unless otherwise specified by the donor, income generated by the fund will support sustainability programming in both academics and operations.

The Tufts University Sustainability Fund is part of the university endowment, which stood at $1.6 billion as of June 30. As part of the endowment, it is guided by the Tufts investment policy, which governs the management of endowed assets.

The university has appointed an advisory committee to help define what constitutes qualifying investments. A member of the Trustee Investment Committee chairs the advisory group, which includes representation from the administration, faculty and student body. The advisors will provide input to the Investment Committee, a sub-committee of the Board of Trustees that has final decision-making authority over all Tufts investments.

The university does not invest in individual securities. Instead, it uses commingled or pooled funds—mutual funds are one example—in which multiple investors hold a piece of an investment portfolio in proportion to the value of their individual investments. It is anticipated that the sustainability fund will also follow this model.

To learn more about supporting Tufts with a gift to the Tufts University Sustainability Fund, please contact Margot Biggin, executive director, University Advancement, at margot.biggin@tufts.edu or 617-627-3287.

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