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SFU first university to choose Vancity Community Investment Bank Impact GIC

January 12, 2023

Simon Fraser University is the first university in Canada to invest with Vancity Community Investment Bank (VCIB), which will help transform our communities and advance SFU’s commitment to responsible investment.

The $10 million deposit in the bank’s Impact GIC will finance housing, green energy and social projects across Canada. Including the VCIB Impact GIC, SFU now has more than $50 million invested in Socially Responsible Investment (SRI) funds and impact investments.

Returns on investments are used to advance long-term academic, research and housing infrastructure strategies at SFU.

“We’ve been looking to expand our responsible investments in ways that directly benefit people in our community,” says Jacky Shen, director of SFU’s treasury department. “Vancity Community Investment Bank supports projects that align with our values and we’re proud to be the first Canadian university to invest with them.”

Other examples of responsible investments made by SFU include $40 million in a global sustainable equity fund, where companies are selected for growth potential and positive impact on the environment and society, and a US$4.5 million commitment to a clean technology fund.

VCIB is a leader in impact investing. The bank is part of the Vancity Group and operates with a 100 per cent impact mandate. This means it exclusively finances organizations and enterprises that drive social, economic and environmental change.

“Universities can be significant platforms for societal and environmental change, and they have the power and resources to create positive impact beyond the campus boundary,” says VCIB Vice President Jennifer Hutcheon. “When responsible investors like SFU choose to invest with VCIB, they are doing more than divesting from fossil fuels – they are choosing to support tangible, impact-driven projects that advance the change we need to see in the world.”

Some of VCIB's projects include financing to support the development of 414 affordable housing units through local Habitat for Humanity organizations and a residential geoexchange project that provides low-cost, clean and efficient heating and cooling for 246 properties in B.C.

SFU’s commitment to responsible investment

In 2014, SFU was one of the first Canadian universities to become a signatory to the UN Principles for Responsible Investment and has incorporated environmental, social and governance integration (ESG) into all parts of its investment process.

Since announcing the university’s commitment to fossil fuel divestment in November 2021, SFU has made good progress, having transitioned $450 million in global equity and more than $100 million in fixed income to fossil fuel-free funds.   

The university, which recently released its 2022-25 Strategic Sustainability and Climate Action Plan, has already achieved its 2025 target to cut the investment portfolio’s carbon footprint by 45 per cent from 2016’s baseline. SFU continues to progress towards achieving the target of full divestment in all of its endowed and non-endowed funds by 2025.