Mission Related Investing

"The Park Foundation's approach to making a difference in the world is holistic. Whether we are investing in social change or the market, we will remain mindful that money is a means, and not an end unto itself. As a foundation, our true bottom line is the good we do in the world. The very same values and ideals that guide our disbursement of funds to the programs that we support should also guide the management of our foundation's capital assets." – Adelaide P. Gomer, President of Board of Trustees, Park Foundation 

Mission Related Investing

Mission Related Investing (MRI) is the term used to describe a number of different ways in which a foundation can utilize its investment portfolio, or endowment, to advance its philanthropic mission. From 2013-2017 Park Foundation awarded an average of 7.4% of the value of its portfolio as grants, as compared to the 5% minimum required by the IRS. In the Foundation’s desire to effectively utilize the other 93% of its assets to advance our mission, it has undertaken the following Mission Related Investing activities:

Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) Screening of the Foundation’s Investment Portfolio

In 2011 the Foundation established an ESG Investment Policy that currently includes guidelines on investments in thirteen categories.  These guidelines serve to advise our investment advisors and fund managers on how to evaluate certain ESG risks in our portfolio.  Categories screened include:

Environment (including the Carbon Underground 200) Employee Relations Product Liability and Corporate Governance
Animal Testing Nuclear and Conventional Weapons Nuclear Power
Tobacco Alcohol Gambling
Water Community Relations Media
Hydraulic Fracturing Fossil Fuel Industry

The Foundation's current ESG policy is at:  Park Foundation - Revised ESG Policy Statement -March 2017

Screened Performance

Year  Park Actual Park Benchmark Private Foundation National Average*
2013 20.67% 19.06%  15.5%
2014 6.67% 5.86%  5.9%
2015 .98% -0.27%  -0.5%
2016 5.8% 8.26%  4.7%
2017 21.6% 16.3% 15.2%
2018 -1.51% -5.17% -3.9%
2019 19.24% 21.02% 18.1%
2020 20.33% 13.88% N/A

*Council on Foundations survey of private foundations with assets between $101 and $500 million.

Proxy Voting

The Foundation actively votes its proxies along Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS)  Socially Responsible criteria. All of the Foundation’s fund managers are required to utilize these guidelines in voting our shares of publicly held corporations.

Shareholder Resolutions

Since 2011 Park Foundation has, working through intermediaries, offered its holdings for filing or co-filing shareholder resolutions on issues of priority to the Foundation. During 2020 the Foundation participated in eight resolutions primarily around environmental and community impacts, investment risk from natural gas hydrofracking, water stewardship, stranded carbon asset risk and governance. To conduct these resolutions the Foundation maintains a separate Shareholder Action Account where it retains stocks, that would otherwise be excluded from the portfolio, at a low value (less than $10,000) to be used for executing resolutions. This account holds approximately 34 stocks that are primarily oil and gas, agriculture, food and beverage, and media companies.  The Foundation also selectively signs on to letters on issues of interest to the Foundation.  In 2020 these issues included the SEC's proposed changes to shareholder engagement and the census.


Park Foundation was one of the original 17 signatories to the 2014 Divest/Invest Philanthropy Initiative that encouraged foundations to divest themselves of carbon stocks, and commit themselves to “climate solutions” investments. Park Foundation has, with the exception of holdings in the Shareholder Action Account described above, eliminated the “Carbon Underground 200” stocks from its portfolio. The Foundation has conservatively estimated that climate solutions investments constitute approximately 15% of its current portfolio.

Park Foundation Portfolio Carbon Footprint (June 2017)

In 2017, the Foundation estimated the carbon footprint of its equity portfolio. The carbon footprint was calculated using the Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions for each company, per company reported data or per MSCI estimations. The portion of the carbon footprint of a company attributed to the investment portfolio was proportional to the percentage of the company owned by the Foundation. A high portfolio carbon footprint relative to an appropriate benchmark can point to the presence of companies that generate significant greenhouse gases.

According to an analysis conducted in April 2017, the carbon footprint of Park Foundation’s public equity holdings was approximately 12% of the MSCI ACWI Benchmark. Equity positions held for shareholder action or with missing emissions data on MSCI were excluded from the analysis. In addition, a few equity funds were also excluded. The full report on the Foundation’s carbon footprint analysis is located at  Carbon Footprint Publication.

Program Related Investments (PRIs)

PRIs are loans that the Foundation makes to local organizations in Tompkins County that align with the Foundation’s mission. Chief characteristics of PRIs are that they must advance the philanthropic mission of the Foundation and they must be at below market interest rates. The Foundation’s PRI program was initiated in 2010 with the restriction that total lending does not exceed 1% of the total portfolio value, and that PRIs be focused locally in Tompkins County, NY. As of December 31, 2020, PRI commitments totaled $4.0 million dollars. The Park Foundation’s current PRI roster includes:

Lendees/Date Purpose
Alternatives Federal Credit Union (2010) Secondary capital
Ithaca Neighborhood Housing Services (2010) Green affordable housing revolving loan fund
Alternatives Federal Credit Union (2012) Residential energy efficiency loan fund
Tompkins County Area Development (2012) Sustainable business loan fund
State Theatre (2014) Restroom renovations
TCAction (2014) Head Start Program building renovation/expansion
Finger Lakes ReUse (2014) Transition to new material reuse facility
Ithaca Carshare (2015) Vehicle Purchase Fund
TCAction (2016) Head Start Classrooms construction
Challenge Industries (2017) Cash flow reserve
Finger Lakes Land Trust (2017) Land acquisition
Hangar Theatre (2017) "A Christmas Carol" production bridge loan
Historic Ithaca (2018) New museum renovation bridge loan
Friends of Stewart Park (2019) Cash flow for phase II construction
State Theatre Inc. (2019) Boiler replacement
Groundswell (2019) Cash flow -- USDA grant
Downtown Ithaca Children's Center (2020) Cash flow -- delayed state funding

A report on the Foundation's first five years of PRIs is located at Park Foundation - Five Years of Program Related Investments

Investing Locally

Wherever possible the Foundation invests locally. It maintains credit card accounts with the local community bank and operating checking accounts with an Ithaca-based regional bank. The Foundation’s PRI commitments and other local investments total in excess of $6 million.

Impact Investing

The Foundation’s working definition of impact investing is when we actively seek opportunities to invest in companies that advance environmental solutions. Our primary focus is on water stewardship.  It actively screens investments along water guidelines (see Water section of ESG Policy Park Foundation - Park Foundation - Revised ESG Policy Statement -March 2017).

Water Investing

In parallel with its grantmaking around environment and water, the Foundation has an interest in investing in water.  To this end it has produced two studies "Park Foundation Water Risk Report (2015)" Dan Apfel and Jon M. Jensen, and "Park Foundation Water Investing Values and Sector Summaries 2016" Dan Apfel.  These studies respectively examine risk factors in investing in water and application of the Foundation's values to investing in water.


Periodically the Foundation produces publications on its work. The following publications are available:

Mission Related Investing

Office Greening

  1. A summary of the Foundation’s Green Plus score and final report (PDF Download) (2015)

Special Project Area

  1.  Needs and Asset Assessment of Child Nutrition in Tompkins County, Executive Summary (2018) Lisa Horn
Greening the Office

To complement its grantmaking mission to address environmental issues, Park Foundation has a strong commitment to “walking the talk” - seeking the highest level of sustainability in its operations and activities. Central to this goal is green certification of its offices and practices. In 2014 the Foundation moved to newly designed office space in downtown Ithaca. As part of the office move, the Foundation donated 103 pieces of furniture to 12 different nonprofit organizations in Ithaca. Over 80 boxes of grant records were digitized, shredded and recycled.  A short video was produced by David Stearn a journalism graduate of Ithaca College Office Greening.  In designing the new office and its operations, Park Foundation was guided by two certification programs:

Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) ®

As part of its design and construction of new office spaces, in 2017 the Foundation was awarded LEED Platinum 2.0 certification under the LEED Commercial Interiors (LEED –CI) category that allows certification of office spaces within buildings that are not LEED-certified overall. Significant elements of LEED CI certification include:

  • High efficiency heating and air conditioning systems
  • Commissioning of those systems
  • Occupancy sensor heating and lighting
  • Nontoxic materials in carpeting, finishes and furniture
  • Energy Star appliances
  • Natural lighting
  • Construction waste minimization
  • Alternative transportation, bicycle storage and changing rooms
  • Green power
  • Regional and renewable materials
  • Certified wood

Here is the Foundation's office Platinum certification LEED Scorecard  .

Green Plus©

Green Plus is a certification process that helps an organization develop sustainable operations, policies and processes. Green Plus breaks its overall certification into the subcategories of Performance, Planet and People. The Foundation received Green Plus certification in 2015. Significant elements include:

  • Planning and documentation
  • Sustainable purchasing
  • green+plus+certifiedFinancial practices
  • Human resources
  • Sustainability management
  • Community engagement
  • Raising awareness
  • Energy
  • Water
  • Transportation
  • Waste reduction

A summary of the Foundation’s Green Plus score and final report (PDF Download) The Green Plus certification process was assisted by interns Shea O’Meara of Ithaca College and Maegan Krieger of Cornell University. HOLT Architects of Ithaca, NY led the LEED certification process with Foundation assistance by Maegan Krieger.

Carbon Offsets

Park Foundation offsets its travel-related carbon emissions by calculating staff and Trustee work-related travel, including staff commuting.  In 2018 this totaled 26.9 tons for $673.00.  Offsets are calculated and an annual contribution is made to Sustainable Tompkins Finger Lakes Climate Fund. Proceeds from this fund assist low-income families in Tompkins County in conducting energy efficiency retrofits to their homes.

Park Scholar Programs

Park Scholar Programs

The Park Scholar Program at North Carolina State University (NCSU) and Ithaca College represent legacy interests of Roy H. Park Sr.   He was a graduate in Journalism from NCSU and served on the Board of Trustees of Ithaca College.  Both programs reflect his desire to help the most qualified students acquire degrees.

In over two decades since it began the Scholar Programs, the Foundation has provided grant support totaling over $131 million in direct support and $80 million in endowment gifts.

North Carolina State University

NCState In 2013, Park Foundation established an endowment for the NCSU Scholarship program with an initial gift of $10 million.   In 2018 the Foundation completed this commitment with gifts bringing the total to $50 million. Significant elements of this endowment include the University’s commitment to invest the endowment in a socially responsible fashion, and its commitment to raise an additional $50 million as part of its current capital campaign.  As of October 31, 2018, the University has raised $2,846,702 in gifts and pledges towards this goal.

The NCSU Park Scholarship program supports nearly 40 new scholarships each year, and its roster of current scholars and alumni is nearing 1,000. Recipients are selected by NCSU through national recruitment and a rigorous review process that includes on-campus interviews of finalists. Those selected have demonstrated achievement and potential in four key areas: scholarship, leadership, service and character. The grants cover tuition and fees, room and board, books and supplies, a computer stipend and living expenses. The scholars represent a wide array of majors across the entire university, including business, engineering, the humanities, public administration and the sciences.

Program enhancements include enrichment grants, specialized faculty mentoring, retreats, and leadership learning and myriad civic engagement opportunities.


For more information: https://park.ncsu.edu/park-scholarships-endowment/.

Ithaca College

IC_logoIn 2014, Park Foundation established an endowment for the program with an initial gift of $5 million.  In 2019 the Foundation completed its commitment, bringing endowment gifts to $30 million.  Like the NCSU endowment, Ithaca College has committed to investing this endowment in a socially responsible fashion.

The Program targets outstanding students entering the Roy H. Park School of Communications. Three hundred and twenty-five students have joined the Scholars program since its inception, studying the full range of communications majors including cinema, documentaries, emerging media, TV-Radio, journalism, management and marketing. Scholars are encouraged and trained to use the power of mass communication to make a positive impact on the world. In a typical year, the program supports a total of fifty or more students with commitments to cover the entire cost of attendance: tuition, room and board, books and supplies, and stipends for a computer and living expenses. One feature of the program is the “rising juniors” opportunity for meritorious students to receive a scholarship for the final two years of their undergraduate degree.

Program enhancements include multiple opportunities for community engagement, leadership, and service training for participation locally, nationally and globally. Park Scholar alumni live, work and serve across the nation from New England to the Pacific Northwest, from Florida to Texas to California.

For more information : https://www.ithaca.edu/parkscholars/