"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|
|Hydraulic Fracturing||Fossil Fuel Industry|
The Foundation's current ESG policy is at: Park Foundation - Revised ESG Policy Statement -March 2017
|Year||Park Actual||Park Benchmark||Private Foundation National Average*|
*Council on Foundations survey of private foundations with assets between $101 and $500 million.
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.
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. In 2016 the Foundation is participating in seven resolutions, primarily around environmental and community impacts and investment risk from natural gas hydrofracking, stranded carbon asset risk, requesting reports on reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and media. To conduct these resolutions withholdings that would otherwise be excluded from the portfolio, the Foundation maintains a separate Shareholder Action Account where it retains stocks 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 and media companies. The Foundation also selectively signs on to letters on issues of interest to the Foundation. In 2017 these issues included the SEC's consideration of corporate disclosure on sustainability, water stewardship in the meat sector, limits on shareholder resolutions, support for the Paris Agreement, withdrawal of support for the Dakota Access pipeline, net neutrality and global banks management of climate change risk.
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 organizations that align with the Foundation’s mission. Chief characteristics of PRIs are that they must advance the philanthropic mission of the lender 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, 2017, PRI commitments totaled $3.3 million dollars. The Park Foundation’s current PRI roster includes:
|Alternatives Federal Credit Union (2010)||Secondary capital|
|Ithaca Neighborhood Housing Services (2010)||Green affordable housing 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|
|Historic Ithaca (2018)||New museum renovation|
A report on the Foundation's first five years of PRIs is located at: Park Foundation - Five Years of Program Related Investments
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.
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).
In parallel with its grantmaking around environment and water, the Foundation has an interest in investing in water. To this end it has commissioned 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
- Improving the Planet and Walking the Talk: Park Foundation’s Engagement with Mission-Related Investing (2014) Park Foundation
- Park Foundation - Five Years of Program Related Investments (2015) Roberta Norman
- Park Foundation Water Risk Report (2015) Dan Apfel and Jon M. Jensen
- Park Foundation - Revised ESG Policy Statement (March 2017)
- Park Foundation Portfolio Carbon Footprint (June 2017)
Special Project Area
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 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
- Financial practices
- Human resources
- Sustainability management
- Community engagement
- Raising awareness
- 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.
Park Foundation offsets its travel-related carbon emissions by calculating staff and Trustee work-related travel, including staff commuting. In 2016 this totaled 23.9 tons for $594.00. 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
The provision of scholarships to highly qualified students at North Carolina State University and Ithaca College was a longstanding interest of Roy H. Park Sr., a tradition that the Foundation continues today. In the two decades since it began the Scholar Programs, the Foundation has provided grant support totaling over $125 million dollars. These scholarship grants underwrite four-year commitments that currently total about $6.5 million per year.
North Carolina State University
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.
In 2013, Park Foundation established an endowment for the NCSU Scholarship program with an initial gift of $10 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.
The Park Scholar Program at Ithaca College targets outstanding students entering the Roy H. Park School of Communications. Nearly 300 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.
In 2014, Park Foundation established an endowment for the program with an initial gift of $5 million. Similar to the NCSU endowment, Ithaca College has committed to investing this endowment in a socially responsible fashion.
The vision for the School Food and Nutrition Special Project area is that all Tompkins County residents will have adequate nutritional security to support their health, growth, and well-being. In particular, the Park Foundation has set a goal of ensuring that every student in Tompkins County has access to and is choosing to eat nutritious and appealing food in school. The Foundation is viewing this work through a social justice lens. This includes the understanding that access to adequate, healthful food is a human right and closely linked with an individual’s or family’s ability to focus on higher-order priorities such as employment, education, participation in public life and caring for family and community.
The goal of the Foundation is disruption of the self-reinforcing cycle depicted below:
Currently, the Foundation is pursuing two strategies to achieve this goal:
The Single District Strategy involves a close multi-year partnership with one Tompkins County School District focused on advancing the district’s and community’s goals regarding school food, nutrition and nutrition education. The Foundation has selected the Groton Community and the Groton Central School District for its pilot partnership.
The Tompkins County Opportunity Strategy seeks to develop relationships, skills and ideas in support of quality school food and nutrition at Tompkins County public schools. This is envisioned as grantmaking in support of discrete programs requiring technical assistance, planning or training that will advance the overall project goal of ensuring that every student in Tompkins County has access to and is choosing to eat nutritious and appealing food in school. On-going operating funds for such projects is not available. Grant decisions will be guided by the following parameters:
- All projects should generally address opportunities or shortfalls identified in the Needs and Asset Assessment of Child Nutrition in Tompkins County Links to that report are here: Full Report or Executive Summary .
- Projects and interventions must be developed in partnership with the populations the project is intended to benefit.
- All school-based projects (programming during the school day or at a school) must involve relevant school district personnel in planning, design, implementation and evaluation.
- Grant proposals should address school-year, school-day nutrition in one or more Tompkins County public school(s).
Equipment purchases will be limited to items essential to advancing the goals of proposed projects. Requests for projects outside Tompkins County will not be considered.