The majority of a foundation’s resources are in its endowment. Why wouldn’t we align our endowment investments with our social-justice mission?

Ahead of the Curve

We began aligning our endowment investments with our mission starting in the 1980s, decades before “impact investing”—that is, investing in companies that aim to generate social and environmental benefits along with financial returns—became a buzzword in philanthropy. We started with negative screens to divest from companies that were profiting from harm (e.g., tobacco and weapons manufacturers), expanded to proactively investing in companies that are building the better world we envision, and broadened further into shareholder activism and direct impact investments.

Mission-Aligned, Market-Smart

Today, the Jessie Smith Noyes Foundation takes a three-pronged approach to mission-aligned investing: screening, shareholder engagement, and impact investments. And we do it without sacrificing returns. Mission-aligned investments aim for market-rate returns comparable to non-mission-focused investments while making measurable social and environmental impacts in line with our deepest values.

Foundations invest resources by design. That means we can play a significant role in advancing the field of sustainable, responsible, and impact investing. At the Jessie Smith Noyes Foundation, we’ve learned a lot as pathmakers in the field, and now we’re sharing knowledge and resources with other progressive foundations to maximize our collective impact.

Our Investing Strategy


In choosing investments, we screen out companies and funds that do harm—such as those who profit from fossil fuels—and include positive-impact organizations—such as companies with fair labor practices.

Shareholder Engagement

We consult with our grantee partners and an investment advisor to vote on corporate decisions and introduce or support shareholder resolutions in for social justice and environmental sustainability.

Impact Investments

We resource companies that are advancing social justice or creating solutions for environmental sustainability through our managed portfolio and other direct impact investments.