Bringing Investments Into Alignment With Our Mission
February 12, 2015
The High Meadows Fund has decided to bring our investments more in line with our mission to promote vibrant communities and a healthy natural environment. To do this, we are eliminating the following from our investment portfolio: oil and gas companies, producers of coal, and utility companies that burn coal as their primary source of fuel, when that can be identified.
Currently, a significant portion of High Meadows Fund assets are managed by Colonial Consulting within the Vermont Community Foundation’s long-term investment pool, and the balance is managed by a Boston-based investment manager. In both cases, the money has been invested in various co-mingled funds, which has made it challenging to track every investment dollar relative to fossil fuel production and climate change. And it has been even more challenging to directly dictate specific sectors or companies to exclude from the portfolio.
In order to exclude certain types of companies from our investment portfolio, we needed to revise this structure. The board has decided to centralize the asset management and simplify the investment structure into three components overseen by the Community Foundation’s asset manager, Colonial Consulting: cash equivalents, domestic bonds, and an actively managed global equity index fund that excludes fossil fuel companies (as noted above).
High Meadows has presently committed 8% of its portfolio to mission impact investments. Our mission impact investing may grow to 15% of the portfolio over time. Excluding fossil fuel companies and growing our mission investments will allow High Meadows to better align our investments with our mission.
The board considered going further, for example by participating in shareholder action or maintaining investments in companies that are actively preparing for a clean energy future. However, we concluded this would require significantly more staff time and expertise than we can make available. We believe our resources and attention are best put to use through grants, convenings, research, and mission investments that address climate issues in Vermont. For that reason, we are taking a more focused approach of eliminating investments in fossil fuel companies from our portfolio.
We also recognize that the board and staff use fossil fuels in order to conduct the business of the Fund. We are taking steps to reduce our carbon footprint by moving our office to a location that requires fewer commuting miles, locating in a building that is near public transit and powered in large part by clean energy, and encouraging carpooling and transit use when we host events and meetings.
Gaye Symington, President - 2/12/2015