An endowment is an ongoing pot of income for a “non-profit” organization. Established in 1718, Yale’s endowment consists of money donated to Yale, as well as money Yale invests.
As of June 2018 Yale’s endowment was valued at $29.4 billion
It’s managed by the Yale Investments Office, run by Chief Investment Officer David Swenson. Swenson is Yale’s highest paid employee.
It makes approximately $8 million per day, and a return of 6-12% annually.
The endowment funds are designated for the long-term funding of University operations, with the majority of funds going towards “undesignated” expenses, “miscellaneous specific purposes,” and professorships. The remaining quarter of the endowment is designated for financial aid, maintenance and books.
Yale’s the second largest university endowment in the world.
Five of Yale’s investment managers had holdings in Puerto Rico’s $74 billion dollar debt at the end of 2017. Baupost, Yale’s 5th largest investment manager, holds over $911 million in Puerto Rican debt. Baupost are fighting other “vulture funds,” by suing Puerto Rico for first dibs at being repaid for the debt they own.
The second largest holder of Puerto Rican debt is Franklin Resources. Billionaire Charles B. Johnson is Franklin’s top shareholder. In September 2013, Johnson donated $250 million to Yale, the largest donation in Yale’s history.
Yale concluded in 2018 that divestment from Puerto Rican debt was not warranted.
Baupost, Yale’s 5th largest investment manager, holds over $911 million in Puerto Rican debt. Baupost is suing Puerto Rico for first dibs at being repaid for the debt they own. ACIR Statement
Yale’s investments in fossil fuels total $678 million (that we know about). In one year, Yale invested $230 in a fracking company.
Yale concluded in 2014 that divestment from fossil fuels was not warranted. ACIR Statement
Payday loans -- loans with roughly 400% interest rates which are prohibited in 24 states, including Connecticut -- drain money from low income communities through predatory lending and use aggressive collection practices. The industry spends approximately $15 million per year on political contributions. Yale is invested in Ace Cash Express. As a result of its abusive debt-collection practices the company reached a $10 million settlement with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
Nationstar, a subprime lending company which has been investigated for its foreclosure practices is among Yale’s investments. Nationstar has foreclosed on homes in New Haven, including on one of Yale’s own employees.
Yale prides itself on its need-blind admissions and tuition assistance, but it funds these initiatives on the backs of student borrowers. Yale’s investment manager, Kingston Capital, has $40 million invested in Navient, the largest servicer of student loans in the U.S. Navient is facing charges that they’ve taken advantage of students with predatory lending practices to maximize student debt.
In the 1980s student activists demanding Yale divest from apartheid South Africa engaged in direct action including a 10 day occupation of Beinecke Plaza, leading to the arrest of 78 students. Their efforts were rewarded when Yale divested from South African companies in the early 1990s.
The Advisory Committee on Investor Responsibility (ACIR) was founded in order to address “social responsibility issues” including investments in South Africa. What is this committee doing today? Shielding Yale’s investments from criticism with flimsy justifications for Yale’s unethical investments.
Endowment Justice at Yale is a campaign for ethical investment practices at Yale University, comprised of members from across the Yale community, including students, faculty and alumni. We are not members of a single organization or interest group, nor do we share a single political ideology. We are united in our belief that through the endowment Yale is complicit in violence and economic injustice in our own communities and around the world. The only ethical action Yale can take is to cancel its unethical holdings and divest. We are committed to educating the Yale community on the endowment and getting Yale to divest by using a diversity of tactics, including direct action.
We demand that Yale divest from fossil fuels and cancel holdings in Puerto Rican debt.