DIVEST FROM WALL STREET, INVEST IN COMMUNITIES

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TAKE ACTION!

In Blog on March 15, 2012 at 11:34 am

In fact, here are three events you can plug into within the next week!

  1. 1T Day: On April 25th student loan debt will reach 1 trillion dollars! Along with other cities, New York City, Philadelphia, and Washington DC are rallying against the profiteers who have burdened students and graduates around the country with debt.
  2. The Takeover of Wells Fargo Shareholder Meeting: On April 24th the 99% are shutting down Wells Fargo’s Annual Shareholder Meeting in San Francisco at the Merchants Exchange Building.
  3. Protest the BOA Shareholder Meeting: On May 9th the Rainforest Action Network, along with other organizations, are protesting at the Bank of America headquarters for their annual shareholder meeting in Charlotte, NC.

This campaign has three core parts:

1. A demand for divestment from the Wall Street banks.
2. A call for the new economic paradigm of real community investment.
3. Taking the first step towards a responsible endowment.

we’re here to show you how >>

Move Our Money Toolkit is a simple, step-by-step guide to implementing a community investment initiative at your school. It includes sample proposals, op-eds, and other publicity materials, an FAQ, a primer on how to find out more about community banking in your area, and everything else you need to know.

Students Claim Victories Nationwide

In Blog on March 15, 2012 at 11:33 am

If you moved your money on Bank Transfer Day, your school can too!

Over the past decade, while the big banks have been faltering, defrauding, and getting bailed out, community investment has grown from a $4 billion dollar industry to a $25 billion industry. Some universities have taken notice, but most have not – simply because nobody has yet stood up and demanded that it be so!

Students across the country are telling their schools to break up with the big banks and bringing community investment to their campuses.

The following schools agreed to begin moving their money

  • Duke University
  • Fordham University
  • Harvard University
  • Macalaster College
  • Mount Holyoke College
  • Seattle University
  • Tufts University
  • University of Cincinatti
  • University of Louisville

Peralta Community College is following in the example of the City of Berkley and City of Austin and passed a resolution to completely break up with Wall Street Banks!

To find out more check out our Success Stories.

Top Six Reasons Why You Should Apply To REC’s NYC Internships

In Blog on February 28, 2012 at 10:21 am
Summer interns

Spearheading the redesign and re-write of the REC Student Handbook was one of our interns' major projects last summer.

1. Our office is the best in Brooklyn.
Our office is located in the weird and wonderful 33 Flatbush in Downtown Brooklyn, which you can read about here and here. It’s conveniently located on top of all of the major train lines, and full of artists, architects, writers, nonprofits, socially responsible small businesses, cupcake makers (yes, that sometimes means we get to eat cupcakes!), and many more.

2. We’re not so different from you.
Hate wearing pantyhose? Can’t relate to your own co-workers? REC’s staff are former student activists in their twenties. We’re professional, but casual — as long as it doesn’t interfere with your work, we’re all about a first name basis, wear what suits you, do-your-thing mentality. We want to work WITH you, not just have you work FOR us, and we value your input in our work.

3. We’ll help you make it work.
For now, our internships are unpaid — but we’d be happy to write a letter or make a phonecall so you can secure academic credit or funding for your work with us. If you’re working during the semester, we’re happy to conform to your academic schedule as long as you can give at least 12 hours a week (excluding finals and/or unusual circumstances of course.) Whenever possible, we try to help subsidize your work with MetroCards or other support where applicable. For summer positions, we’re looking for full-time (35 hours a week).

4. Give your resume a competitive edge.

Employers are looking for talented students with experiences like working independently, speaking on behalf of an organization, managing social media, and handling projects independently. Want opportunities to develop your writing skills? Help with fundraising? Graphic design? Database management? Let’s make it happen.

5. Learn all about investment finance, higher education, and social justice.
The work for responsible investment that goes on at universities sits at the intersection of several different universes. Are you interested in the politics of campus organizing and the democratization of higher education? Have you always wanted to learn more about stocks, bonds, mutual funds, and all that other stuff? Want to know what the responsible investment industry is all about? You’ll learn all of this and more.

6. No previous knowledge or experience required.
We’re not necessarily looking for econ majors, experienced campus organizers, or finance experts. We’re looking for smart, hardworking, dedicated, idealistic young leaders who are willing to take on unique and powerful work for social justice and institutional change. If this sounds like a great opportunity, then your enthusiasm will be your biggest competitive advantage in the application process.

We hope YOU will consider applying for one of our positions. If you have any questions, email us at apply@endowmentethics.org – we look forward to hearing from you. Learn more and apply today!

“Move Your Money, Enact Change” in California

In Blog on February 15, 2012 at 5:25 pm

Berkeley students call on the University of California to move their money:

So we call upon Cal students to move our money, and to do it now. The ASUC, University of California Student Association, Peralta City Colleges (which includes Berkeley City College), the Berkeley Rent Board and the city of Berkeley itself have recently voted to take steps to move their combined hundreds of millions of dollars out of large banks. Because we are unbeholden to mortgages and uniquely mobile, young people comprise the majority of money-movers, and we can actively pressure the UC system to follow our lead. Our ability to create change within the state and the UC system is predicated not only on our ability to lobby legislators in Sacramento but also on our choices as consumers. What’s more insidious — the fact that food deserts exist as close as Oakland, where one can traverse entire neighborhoods and find liquor stores but no groceries? Or that on each of these blocks is an ATM for a large bank? UCOP clamors for students to turn to Sacramento for structural change to fund our education, but students can turn to their own wallets and demand the same of UC Berkeley and the regents.

Check out REC’s Community Investment Toolkit

In Blog, How To on January 24, 2012 at 1:38 pm

REC's Community Investment Toolkit

Move Our Money: REC’s Community Investment Toolkit (PDF direct link — right click, save as) is a simple, step-by-step guide to implementing a community investment initiative at your school. It includes sample proposals, op-eds, and other publicity materials, an FAQ, a primer on how to find out more about community banking in your area, and everything else you need to know. We highly encourage you to print it out, read, and share to learn more about how to make community investment happen at your school! If you have any questions or would like anything to be added, please let us know so we can make this resource as useful as possible for you.

How To Get Started

In Blog on January 19, 2012 at 10:04 am

So you’ve decided you want to make community investment happen at your school? Here is a brief, step-by-step guide that can help you outline your campaign.

Step 1: Read Up On Community Investment
Congratulations – you’re already doing that! This website will give you some good background information. If you don’t know anything about finance, that’s OK! The FAQ section will give you a crash course, and we’re here to help and share resources like success stories from other schools.

Step 2: Get Equipped With Our Community Investment Toolkit
Our community investment toolkit [PDF] is a simple, step-by-step guide to implementing a community investment initiative at your school. It includes sample proposals, op-eds, and other publicity materials, an FAQ, a primer on how to find out more about community banking in your area, and everything else you need to know. Read and share!

Step 3: Let Us Help You
REC is here to support students – it’s built right into our mission! Connect with us and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible, or drop us a line at organize@endowmentethics.org. We can answer your questions, provide resources, connect you with other students who have been successful in the past, and much more.

Let’s Move it All! : Why Universities and Other Institutions Should Participate in Bank Transfer Movement

In Blog on December 10, 2011 at 12:00 am

By Caitlin Dally
REC student organizer, senior International Studies at the University of San Francisco

I am a senior at the University of San Francisco, but the greater part of my youth was spent in small town, rural-esque, quaint community on an island off of Seattle, Vashon Island.  When my family first moved to Vashon, the small business community was flourishing; local grocers, restaurants, realty offices, a movie theater, etc.  Everything was home grown – including one of my favorite cafés Fred’s Home Grown.  Fred’s is now boarded up, like most of Vashon’s retail space is available for rent because of its inability to maintain business in our current economy.  Not only did Fred’s close, my mother’s interior design business and art gallery, which served as a space for community was forced to close too. The importance and value of local businesses are vital to defining and creating a sense of community.  Outside of the old hardware store, now a restaurant, hangs a sign “Today’s special, so is tomorrow”.  Can tomorrow be special without independent and local businesses?

Recently it appears that the American public has recognized the correlation of the demise of such endearing small businesses with the prevalence of corporate banking institutions.  When a 27-year-old Los Angeles resident made a Facebook event inviting her friends to move their money into credit unions and other responsible financial institutions, she had no idea that her action would go viral. Together, according to estimates, one million Americans have participated in the bank transfer movement.  These citizens moved their money, stating that they would no longer support too-big-to-fail banks but rather invest in institutions, which prioritize community over profit.

Bank transfer day was just one day in a movement towards keeping tomorrow special, to create a better financial future for Americans. I was among many college students who were inspired to participate in bank transfer day by moving their money into credit unions.  We choose to support credit unions, and community development financial institutions because they function differently from corporate banks.  The customer of a credit union is a member who acts like share holder and plays a role in the bank’s decision making. Credit unions often offer higher rates for deposits, lower costs for loans and reduced fees. But most importantly, credit unions work for these small businesses and community organizations offering manageable business loans and fair and maintainable mortgage rates.

This past summer I started working for the Responsible Endowments Coalition (REC) because I want to think globally, and act locally.  At REC, we work to foster social and environmental change by making responsible investment a common practice amongst colleges and universities.  I have realized that the bank transfer movement is not just about the action that people need to take individually by independently investing their money in responsible financial institutions.  For it to be truly successful institutions must participate alongside citizens.

Often, I look at my bank account balance and it is pretty dismal.  I know as a college student there’s not much money in my personal checking account.  But when I imagine how much money a university possibly has in the bank, it seems infinitely.  We are looking at millions, if not billions of dollars. The University of San Francisco alone has $213 million in its endowment. These institutions need to start taking their banking decisions seriously.  There is no time like the present to build off of the success of Bank Transfer Day. Let’s demand that the institutions, which we are affiliated with, invest in responsible financial institutions.

Most universities have a candy coated, sweet pitch for prospective students and their parents. My university and many other Jesuit institutions uphold a great standard in their commitment to fighting for social justice.  Is investing in corporate banks, which foreclose on families who they purposefully target with sub-prime mortgage loans, socially just?  I don’t think an institution claiming faith in social justice can maintain their reputation while supporting these current corporate financial institutions.  It is imperative that we ask our universities and institutions to act responsibly, to have the maximum possible impact possible. And the time is now.

            Let’s move our money and keep tomorrow special.

Campus Updates, Fall 2011

In Blog on November 23, 2011 at 6:11 pm

It’s been a great month for our movement!

Many schools have been taking part in national community investment campaign actions throughout November, including Bank Transfer Day, such as:

  • The University of Chicago, where students proposed community investment and transparency initiatives to the administration that were well-received(!), in addition to planning a teach-in. Check out one of their op-eds here.
  • Washington University in St. Louis, who did a beautiful “Break Up With Bank of America” demonstration and action. (“It’s not me, it’s you!”) . Molly at Wash U also wrote a great piece about the Occupy St Louis March and College Bank Transfer Day.
  • The University of San Francisco, who chalked, flyered campus, and got media attention;
  • Barnard College, where one of our interns, Amandine, tabled and gathered petition signatures for Barnard to move money, while raising awarenessa around credit unions and responsible investment;
  • The University of Pittsburgh, who made big face-cut-out banners of famous folks from Pittsburgh,
  • Hampton University, which had flyers, handouts, and a meeting with the administration about community investment;
  • American University, where there was a teach-in and a meeting with the administration, as well as this great op-ed.
  • Florida A&M University (FAMU) where students are planning a leadership workshop and a “Rethinking Black Money” educational event;
  • Fairfield University, where the students met with their administration;
  • UC San Diego, where students changed their bank accounts on Bank Transfer Day; and
  • Brown University, where students paid a visit to their local credit union.

REC had the pleasure of meeting new folks from Oberlin College, the University of Michigan, Kalamazoo College, Western Michigan University, and Northwestern University during a recent visit to the midwest! In addition, we got a chance to meet and speak with talented students and allies at the University of Chicago and Loyola University Chicago. Thanks to everyone for such an inspiring trip!

REC also took a trip to North Carolina this past month. We swung by Duke University, where on-campus sentiments are on conflict minerals and Occupy Duke, UNC Greensboro, where some stakeholders are considering community investment, and UNC Chapel Hill, where Martin moderated a panel of experts on the economics, politics, and morality behind their coal divestment campaign. We also met students from Guilford College at Occupy Greensboro and are working with them on getting their school to invest money in their community!

REC also visited The New School here in New York City for a teach-in on moving money, the University of Rochester in Rochester, NY, and Harvard University in Cambridge, MA.

Other active campaigns this semester include Middlebury College, who did this beautiful video asking “What’s Middlebury Investing In?”; Swarthmore College, where students sent an open letter to the investment office and Board of Managers about endowment transparency; Arizona State Univeristy, where students made a Freedom of Information Act request about the school’s investments to raise the issue of endowment transparency on campus; the University of Southern California; Wesleyan University, and more. Alums: email info@endowmentethics.org to find out more about what’s going on at your alma mater.

Students: It’s Our Money, Let’s Take it Back

In Blog on November 2, 2011 at 2:42 am

by Molly Gott, Washington University in St. Louis

Last Friday, I attended an Occupy St. Louis march that included a protest outside of the Bank of America’s St. Louis headquarters. Participants included people of different ages, races, socioeconomic backgrounds, and political beliefs. There were students, veterans, union members, toddlers, adults who reminded me of my parents, members of the St. Louis LGBTI community, and countless others. The ever-increasing diversity of the #occupy movement is clear. Now, we must work to harness that diversity in ways that strengthen, rather than fracture, the movement. We must recognize that different people are uniquely poised to affect change in different — and powerful — ways.

As students, what can we do? How can we help grow the #occupy movement and empower the 99%? We can do more than hold signs, hand out flyers, and post on Facebook. We can change the way our universities bank.

Often, universities portray themselves as sacred temples of learning — places where apolitical knowledge is generated and shared. And while there is some truth to that, it must also be acknowledged that universities are powerful and wealthy institutions often controlled by powerful and wealthy individuals. These individuals have vested interests in seeing particular corporations prosper, as well as our current financial and political systems perpetuated.
Those interests are reflected in universities’ institutional relationships with big, corporate banks. Many universities use Bank of America and Chase for banking services. They have participated in interest rate swaps with Lehman Brothers. They have welcomed corporate banks onto campuses to sell credit cards to students. These relationships strengthen the big banks that charge excessively high interest rates, engage in risky financial bets, and perpetuate predatory lending practices, particularly in low-income communities and communities of color. (For more information on these practices, see here.)

Universities control an almost mind-boggling amount of money, including about $350 billion in endowments and almost $100 billion in annual spending. Of course, that money does not just sit in a vault in the admissions’ office. It is kept in a bank — usually a big corporate bank such as Bank of America, J.P. Morgan Chase, or Citibank.

The #occupy movement has raised awareness that where we deposit our money matters. Banks depend on deposits from their clients — especially institutional clients like universities. When enough clients move their money because they do not agree with a bank’s practices (such as engaging in payday lending, funding mountaintop removal coal mining, or perpetrating robo-signed foreclosures), the bank may be forced to change its practices in order to regain deposits and survive.

On November 5th, “Bank Transfer Day,” thousands of individuals will close their corporate bank accounts and move their money to community banks and credit unions — financial institutions that are more socially, environmentally, and economically just and sustainable. College students: let’s join this action. But let’s also go a step further and demand that our universities close their corporate bank accounts and move their money as well.

This is not a ridiculous demand. In fact, divesting from corporate banks is in line with most universities’ rhetoric about and already existing commitments to social, environmental and community responsibility.

We must ask ourselves: How can a school flaunt its LEED-certified buildings, sophisticated recycling program, and commitment to buying local food, but keep its money in a bank that finances mountaintop coal removal? How can a school tout its community development initiatives and programs that provide tutors for children in underserved communities, but keep its money in a bank that unjustly forecloses on homes in those same children’s neighborhoods? It is the time for college students across the country to call attention to this hypocrisy and demand that institutions change it.

It is our moment. Now is the time to leverage our unique power as students to expand the #occupy movement to affect university finances. Every dollar that we move gets us one step closer to a financial system that values our planet and all of its people.

On November 5th, join me and other students across the country as we move our money. Then, let’s call upon our universities to do the same.

Everyone — Join the Facebook event College Bank Transfer Day to make a statement and learn more.

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