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The Initiative for Responsible Investment (IRI — formerly the Institute for Responsible Investment at the Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship) serves as a platform for dialogue on fundamental issues and theories underlying how financial markets can promote wealth creation across the triple bottom line. The IRI addresses responsible investment across asset classes, and conducts research, convenes stakeholders, and catalyzes practical action on issues important to the responsible investment community.
The Initiative for Responsible Investment was founded in 2003 with the guidance of Steve Lydenberg, chief investment officer at Domini Social Investments, and is led by Director David Wood. Current research and projects include the practice and value of corporate social responsibility investing; alternate theories of investment across asset classes; and the roles of investment consultants. The IRI publications include The Handbook for Climate-Related Investing Across Asset Classes; The Handbook on Responsible Investment Across Asset Classes; and The Evolution of Responsible Investment Consulting.
As part of its programming, the IRI has helped create two parallel organizations. The Responsible Property Investing Center is a collaboration with the University of Arizona to stimulate new vocabulary, research, and investments in the field of Responsible Property Investing (RPI), using research and education to build a community of practice around environmental and social investment strategies in the real estate industry.
The IRI also hosts More for Mission an association of foundations dedicated to broadly promoting mission investing and encouraging additional foundations — private, community, and corporate — to take up mission investing practices. More for Mission (M4M) aims to help foundations acquire the tools and information they need to better align their investments with their mission. Additionally, M4M helps to link foundations that are pioneers in mission investing and those new to the practice to disseminate information and encourage cross-fertilization in the field.
According to Chris Stone, faculty director of the Hauser Center and the Daniel and Florence Guggenheim professor of the practice of criminal justice at the Harvard Kennedy School, the partnership with More for Mission will open new opportunities for research into the ways foundations can use their financial assets to advance public purposes and achieve their missions.
“Foundation endowments are largely idle resources in the substantive work of philanthropy,” said Stone. “More for Mission is clarifying that — bridging these huge assets into the core work of the field prudently and responsibly. There are great opportunities here for learning, teaching, and advancing the field. We at the Hauser Center look forward to exploring those approaches not only with More for Mission and its large network of member foundations but also as a university-wide effort with all the schools and faculty at Harvard,” he added.
Toward that end, Stone will be chairing a university-wide faculty committee to bring the concept of mission investing into the classroom. Luther M. Ragin, Jr., the William H. Bloomberg lecturer in public management at the Harvard Kennedy School and chief investment officer at the F.B. Heron Foundation, one of the co-founders of More for Mission, will be working with Stone on this initiative.