The REF is designed to match the demands and context of any college endowment campaign that aligns with REC's political priorities. All campus campaigns are different, and context matters. The REF is not a generic tool, but rather one that is adaptable and uniquely developed for each campaign. This way, campaigns can cater the timeline and terms of the fund based on the stage of the campaign to stay accountable to the particular context and priorities of the group.
Alternative endowment or escrow funds like the REF can be a potent tool, but only if they take into account the specific campaign context and are integrated into a broader escalation strategy. We work closely with students to develop terms for the fund, a back-up plan for disbursing the funds if the college fails to meet demands, and an organizing plan to incorporate the tactic into your campaign. We provide ongoing consultation and support for leveraging the REF to its full capacity in order to make it as successful as possible. Our goal is to support students in becoming strong, whole, and effective organizers and for the fund to become a successful component of a campaign strategy.
The REF project is managed by our Alumni Team, Nina and Jess, who are committed to fostering intergenerational organizing relationships. The REF is a great way to build a stronger base of alumni and to engage already supportive alumni in helping grow the fund. Rather than allowing alums to work unilaterally to divert donations from the college's general endowment, the REF encourages collaboration between students and alums to grow the fund and put pressure in campaign targets. Thus, we see the REF as both an escalation tactic and a base-building strategy.
In order for the REF to maximally contribute to creating endowments that reflect community values, the fund is managed responsibly with screens to prevent investment in the fossil fuel industry, private prisons, arms, tobacco, pornography, factory meat farms, and genetically modified foods. In addition, we highly recommend that groups include reinvestment demands in their fund terms to ensure that colleges not only divest from injustice, but also reinvest in community-based solutions. We also encourage campaigns to divert funds (if demands are not met) to supporting ongoing student organizing for social justice.