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Behind the Scenes: Divest-Invest and The Educational Foundation of America

I'm on a mission to capture exciting stories from investors around the country who are moving their money out of fossil fuels and into climate solutions.  

The Educational Foundation of America was one of the first foundations to join Divest-Invest Philanthropy.  This week, I'm making a short video featuring EFA's board members and executive director discussing their ethical and financial commitment to support the new energy economy.  

And we had fun, too!  

System-Change: The New Green Economy

People's Climate March, NYC 2014

People's Climate March, NYC 2014

My whole career has been dedicated to systemic change.  I am led by a deep passion and persistent optimism to believe that it is possible to design a healthcare system, or an education system, or a justice system that actually serves communities in a positive way.  

What does it take to change systems?  Usually, it's money. Changing where the money goes in the system.  Different input, different output.

That’s why I’m super excited to be doing some work with Divest-Invest Philanthropy.  Divest-Invest is a movement among philanthropic leaders to divest their holdings from fossil fuels and re-invest in climate solutions.  So far, 500 institutions and 50,000 individuals - managing assets in excess of $3.4 trillion-  have pledged to move their money out of the industries that are directly contributing to global warming and to invest instead in renewable energy, energy efficiency, clean tech, sustainable agriculture, water conservation, energy access and climate justice initiatives.  

This is system change at work--an active re-allocation of funds that can change the economic game and lead the transition to a new sustainable economy that protects our planet and the communities most at risk.  

So what does that LOOK like?  I'm only a few weeks into my project with Divest-Invest and I'm already stoked about all the exciting investments that participating foundations are making.  Here are a few examples:

Expanding the Market for Sustainably Sourced Food

In Portland, Ecotrust is strengthening the regional economy by creating direct relationships between urban and rural food producers.  This allows high quality sustainably grown food to reach wider local distribution and become more affordable.  On top of an online platform that connects food growers to local markets and restaurants, Ecotrust is also building The Redd, a working hub that will give farmers a place to sell to large local buyers, like hospitals and schools.   

Photo: Ecotrust

Photo: Ecotrust

Transforming Fuel-Guzzlers into Hybrids

Lightning Hybrids is company that retrofits the biggest polluters on the road-- buses, delivery trucks, shuttles and other large vehicles-- and turns them into hybrids, making them more fuel efficient and reducing harmful emissions.  

 

Converting Urban Spaces to Farmland

Boston-based Green City Growers is turning unused space in grocery stores, sports facilities, assisted-living facilities and corporate offices into small food-producing farms.  To date, Green City Growers have grown "over 140,000 lbs of organic produce, valued at over $500,000, donated 4,000 lbs of produce, & worked with more than 6,000 people on urban farms & gardens which cover less than 2 acres of space combined."

Photo: Green City Growers

Photo: Green City Growers

Foundations, pension-funds, universities, insurance companies, cities and faith-groups who divest from fossil fuels and re-invest in solutions like these are leading the way for a powerful green economy.  Together they are showing that when money is moved in alignment with values over pure profit, it is possible to change the system.

Sugar and Social Justice

In 37 years, the rate of diabetes in the United States QUINTUPLED.  According to National Geographic from August 2013, there are now more than 22 million Americans living with diabetes.

The primary cause?  Sugar.  It’s in everything.  Bread and cereal, processed lunch meats, yogurt, ketchup, and of course, soda.  The average can of coke contains 8 teaspoons of sugar. Low-fat yogurt has more than 6 tsp. National Geographic reports that the average American consumes almost 23 teaspoons of sugar a day!  For perspective, that’s equivalent to 1,135 cups of rice. 

As the rate of diabetes skyrockets, sugar in the US diet also contributes to high cholesterol and high blood pressure. 

Who suffers the most?  The poor.  People who live in neighborhood food deserts, where it's challenging to find fresh, whole food.  People who can't afford to buy food for a week at the grocery store and rely on fast food.  People who have Medicaid, which can make it hard to access good primary care doctors.

This is why I organize around health care.  I support communities to win the policies and the practices that will help them not only overcome the injustice in our food and healthcare system, but to THRIVE. Check out my recent work on Better Living! here.