John Alston conducts the Mozart Requium, Swarthmore's Lang Music Center 2005
John Alston (left) conducts all-community performance of Mozart Requiem 2005.  Alston received an honorary degree 2015 for enriching the College and the lives of countless black students in Chester, PA with the power and beauty of music.
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JEB Eddy '63, Jerry Nelson '65   2June2015
Rev 17Jun15

"Swarthmore was the birthplace five years ago of the national divestment movement."
--The Philadelphia Enquirer

"Swarthmore, a prestigious liberal arts college, is widely considered a birthplace of this divestment movement."
--The New York Times

College donations can be diverted in two ways by alumni wishing to signal the need for stronger action on climate change to a College dragging its feet and seemingly blind to the leadership in social justice that everyone expects from us.

The President's Climate Commitment Fund (PCCF) works for a greener campus, and requires knowledge of the campus "Sustainability Committee" (SusCom), because SusCom will likely hand out the funds we donate.  The PCCF is all green, non-coercive, and no money enters the endowment (it is put to work now, instead).  Large estate-planning donations are easy to make through the College's Development Office, 1-800-525-8622.

The Fund for a Responsible Swarthmore is an escrow account run by the student activist group Swarthmore Mountain Justice.  The escrow account withholds donations from the endowment unless fossil fuel divestment is accomplished by May 2017.  If the deadline is not met, the College still gets the money, but it goes to the Eugene Lang Center for Civic and Social Responsibility for more climate activism. Small PayPal donations are easy to make on-line.

1. the on-campus activists are Swarthmore Mountain Justice
2. The legal name of the fund is "Fund for a Responsible Swarthmore"
3. holds  such funds in escrow for different colleges and universities, and manages the Web presence of their donation pages.
Go here to donate:

We look at each program in turn.


The President's Climate Commitment Fund (PCCF) provides an opportunity for older alumni jockeying with the allocation of gifts from their estate to make a policy-specific donation to the College.  A PCCF donation counts towards your Reunion Class totals and leaves the College in full control of its funds -- no jumping through hoops before release of an escrowed account, as with the Fund for a Responsible Swarthmore, below.

for the

Note: in practice, the President is expected to delegate management and mission to the College's "Sustainability Committee" (SusCom).  Since PCCF donations go to no endowment, PCCF donations become operating budget funds for SusCom.

"The President's Climate Commitment Fund was established in 2012 by Jonathan E.B. ["Jeb"] Eddy '63 and Edith Twombly Eddy '64.  This President's discretionary fund is used to support the activities that move Swarthmore College and its community toward a more environmentally sustainable future.  This includes, but is not limited to, the reduction or offsetting of carbon or other greenhouse gas emissions; innovative replacements of less than efficient technologies, systems, and devices; student summer opportunities; technology to enhance or expand the reach of educational activities; course development, workshops or speakers; other special projects to advance student, faculty, staff and alumni understanding of environmental and/or sustainability issues and implementation of programs that promote sustainable lifestyles and practices.  The fund is a current or spend-down fund [not a contributor to an endowment], administered at the discretion of the President."

As the President is expected to leave day-to-day running of the President's Climate Commitment Fund (PCCF) to the Sustainability Committee (SusCom), we turn next to SusCom.


"The purpose of the Sustainability Committee (SusCom) of Swarthmore College is to make recommendations to the President and to the College community regarding policies to promote environmental sustainability on campus. . . . the most efficient and responsible use of College resources; ... pertaining to environmental sustainability."

In the 2014/2015 year, SusCom had 19 members:

10 Administration members; e.g.,
Director of Maintenance,
Director, Eugene Lang Center for Civic and Social Responsibility
4 Faculty members; e.g.,
Dept. of Engineering
Lang Visiting Professor for Issues of Social Change
5 students or recent alums

PCCF donors become one income stream among several to SusCom, the Sustainability Committee.

The bigger the pot, the less you can stir up anything with your spoon.

To exert some policy control over alumni monies that flow through the PCCF (President's Climate Commitment Fund) to SusCom (the campus Sustainability Committee), one might stipulate that the Editor of the Phoenix be entitled to appoint persons (students, professional outside auditor) of his choice once each year to whom the Administration shall be obligated to provide an accounting of PCCF-funded projects, or projects to which PCCF funds were contributed.

This year, a member of the student activist group "Swarthmore Mountain Justice" sits in as an observer on SusCom. Such an activist committed to expressing his social conscience to work for a better society would be a logical choice to report to the community any worthy achievements -- or missed opportunities -- of the PCCF.  Such a student from the activist community should be a full member of SusCom.  It would advance the governance and transparency of the PCCF to its donors, and attract more donations.  Thus far, the College's Development Office is doing little to give the PCCF visibility, so call 1-800-525-8622 and insist on it.

If you donate to the PCCF, let Swarthmore Mountain Justice know.  In 2015, the alumni liason person is Stephen O'Hanlon,, and remove MountainJustice.   When a better way to tally alumni participation in the PCCF emerges, please let know, and remove the Board of Managers. 



The Fund for a Responsible Swarthmore (the escrow fund, started in March 2014) is explained here:

That URL (Web page) defines the terms which the escrow fund asks the College to meet for release of escrowed monies, and provides a means of donating  (PayPal, which can also draw down credit cards registered with PayPal).

The leading student activist group for divestment on campus is Swarthmore Mountain Justice (as in "mountain-top removal coal mining").  They encourage alumni to withhold donations from the endowment, and put the money into this escrow fund instead.   Funds held in in escrow are released when divestment from fossil fuel industry stocks occurs, but, as we shall see, all monies return to Swarthmore one way or another.

If there continues to be no divestment by May 2017, rather than enter the College endowment, escrowed funds are donated to the Eugene Lang Center for Civic and Social Responsibility to fund student climate activism with year-long stipends.  This has already happened when 50% of the funds (a very few thousand dollars at the time) were turned over to the Lang Center after the Board announced on 2 May 2015 that it would not budge on divestment -- and thus the  first deadline went unmet.  May 2017 is the second and final deadline for divestment.

As mentioned, the escrow organization in the URL ( serves the divestment programs of several leading universities and seems much respected even if unknown to many of us.  The escrow group is (obviously) a separate organization from the students' Swarthmore Mountain Justice group, which wants you to use the escrow program they and other schools have created, but which has no legal standing as a financial institution.  The funds of each school remain entirely separate, and the fund created by our students is the "Fund for a Responsible Swarthmore".

The 2 May 2015 Board of Managers decision to not begin even a modest plan towards partial divestment came as a surprise to many after five years of protest, 32 days of sit-in, 200 divestment actions at US schools (2013; ), 500 campaigns world-wide (2015; ), petitions and favorable faculty votes . . . all at a small college looked to by many for its leadership on social justice as an expression of long-held Quaker values. 

My choices?  I gave to my Class Scholarship fund.  Everyone knows what a scholarship is, who could mis-spend the money?  I have loyalties to honor, purposes to serve -- I can accept the College's non-divested investment of that money--others might worry about living a rigidly pure life.   But it's all over for me with the usual donations.  Contributions we have made every year since graduation will go to the Escrow Fund now.  If there is an intergenerational wealth transfer, a larger gift to the PCCF would be easier than the escrow account's PayPal.  

Looking for a Good Fantasy T-shirt
Bought off the back of a member of the Class of '49.

resource & document list
Resource 1, Petition:
Resource 2, YOU ARE HERE -- Two Plans for college donations.
Resource 3, document:
"We Divest for Social Ostracism and Public Humiliation" 
Resource 4, document: "Why We Can Never Divest Again
Resource 5,
document "Fossil Fuel Divestment FAQ"
Resource 6, document "Swarthmore Chooses Excellence in the 1800s.