Switzer Foundation transitions to fossil-free and socially responsible bank
Last year, the foundation committed to transitioning our checking account and credit cards to a new bank as part of an ongoing effort to align all of our practices, from programmatic to administrative, with our values to improve environmental quality and advance social equity. We have now completed this transition to Amalgamated Bank, which comes recommended by several colleagues affiliated with Confluence Philanthropy and the Environmental Grantmakers Association, among others.
According to Banking on Climate Chaos’s 2021 report, the banking industry, via lending and underwriting, has financed more than $3.8 trillion globally in the fossil fuel sector since the signing of the Paris Agreement, with 35% of this toward fossil fuel expansion projects. To bank with an institution is to contribute resources to their lending practices, regardless of any sustainable finance commitments. For this reason, the choice to transition to a bank with a demonstrated commitment to climate justice became nonnegotiable.
We selected Amalgamated Bank because of its socially responsible banking and investing, use of resources to combat climate change and support the communities most affected, and certification as a B corporation. Amalgamated isn’t the only bank with these demonstrated values: Bank for Good provides a searchable list of fossil-free banks, and you can find a list of banks categorized as socially responsible here. BankFWD offers a toolkit for engaging with your bank about their climate-related investments, and this tool from Mighty Deposits helps to narrow your banking search with additional criteria, such as whether it invests in low-income communities or is Black-, Indigenous-, or woman-owned.
As a foundation, we recognize that the funds we manage are not separate from the environmental and social issues that we support with our grant programs and network. We pledged to fully divest from fossil fuels in 2014, and we committed to engage in shareholder resolutions that encourage companies to improve environmental quality in 2019. Our transition to a new environmentally- and socially-responsible bank is another step of many toward leveraging the power we have as an institution in support of our values. As always, we welcome your insight as we continue on this trajectory, and hope that our example helps chart a path for individuals and institutions affiliated with the Switzer Network to make similar changes in their own spheres of influence.