Documenting Climate Finance and University Endowment Investing

A team of six PPEH public research interns working to make sense of the growing green economy and the world of climate finance by documenting the Wharton Business School’s Total Impact Portfolio Challenge (TIPC)

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Photo credit Maria Murad

In 2019, PPEH initiated it's first collaboration with the Wharton School of Business through the Wharton’s Social Impact Initiative (WSII) to challenge teams at colleges and universities across the country to invest a college endowment to drive climate solutions while generating a healthy return on investment.  The program is called the Total Impact Portfolio Challenge. It's a national competition that, in WSII's words, equips "students with the knowledge, skills, and experience to design and execute investment portfolios that maximize [positive social] impact across asset classes." (Read about previous iterations of the challenge on CNBC: "MBA Students Face Off.")

In 2019-2020, 47 teams on campuses across the country with some 215 students are planning investments for the fictional Pawnee College: a highly regarded liberal arts schools founded in 1892 and located on a beautiful campus. College leadership wishes to invest their endowment (of $250 million) to drive climate solutions, avoid climate risk, and slow climate change. Pawnee is further concerned about income inequality in a post-industrial landscape.

Their portfolios were due on March 1, and finalists will be announced in late March and travel to Philadelphia for the Challenge Finals in April.  

At the same time the Challenge launched, PPEH created a new internship opportunity for Penn undergraduates who wanted to learn more about climate finance and to document what role university and college endowments might play. Our Climate Finance Public Research Interns (pictured below) have now created a public website for sharing their research findings, posting profiles of the student endowment investors as well as interviews with experts on climate finance and professional investors, on college campuses and off, all speaking to the fundamental question with which this new collaboration between PPEH and WSII began: Can you invest to keep your endowment strong and simultaneously stem the flows of capital that feed the fires of climate change?

Visit the Climate Finance Website

PPEH Climate Finance Public Research Interns
PPEH Climate Finance Public Research Interns