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DIVESTING

 

Choosing Socially Responsible Investing

DIVESTING

 

Choosing Socially Responsible Investing

Teen community service organization chooses green and socially responsible investing (SRI).

VISIONS Service Adventures has made the decision to leave its banking relationships with Merrill Lynch and Wells Fargo. In part as a response to Native American tribes that are calling for divestitures of banks that are funding the Dakota Access Pipeline, VISIONS will be moving its accounts to a Bozeman, Montana-based fiduciary that specializes in environmentally and socially responsible investing.

VISIONS Director, Katherine Dayton, had already been exploring alternative banking alternatives after a New York Times’ feature about big banks’ underwriting of billions of dollars in loans that are used to finance deforestation and forest burning activities in Southeast Asia, destroying endangered orangutan habitat and contributing to climate change. Bank of America, which owns Merrill Lynch, has been one of the lenders.

The decision has been personal in many ways. Katherine’s dad managed the Billings, Montana, Merrill Lynch office for most of her life. Growing up, it was a familiar and friendly place, like extended family. To this day, her broker and his partners are close friends. At the same time, her deep belief in environmental efforts has shown to be at odds with some the company’s decisions.

And for VISIONS, holding operating funds and employee retirement accounts with financial institutions that are potentially helping the Dakota Access Pipeline cuts into the organization’s values of supporting our communities, community partners, and the environment. Although the accounts are modest, we look forward to having financial activity more aligned with the work we do and the changes we are making in the world. We also believe that decisions like this help contribute to the watershed effect that individuals and organizations can have when taking action for positive change in the world.