A student-led campaign pushing for a greener Foothill-De Anza Community College District has led the board of the FHDA Foundation to divest all of the stocks it holds in fossil fuel energy companies.
In a unanimous vote at its Oct. 23 meeting, the Foothill-De Anza Foundation approved a resolution pledging to dump all fossil fuel stocks from its portfolio. According to a representative for the environmental organization 350.org, the FHDA Foundation is the first community college foundation to make such a move.
"You have to give credit to the students," said Martin Neiman, the foundation's treasurer.
He told the Voice that he and his colleagues wouldn't have taken the vote -- at least not so soon -- if it weren't for the efforts of student organizers, like Karla X. Navarro of De Anza.
"As an institution invested in future generations and our local community, we feel strongly that divestment is the next step in helping to create the world that we want to live in," Navarro said during an presentation to the foundation board in August.
"We were very receptive to their initiative," Neiman said, noting that he personally believed that divestment was a good policy, and said he thinks others on the board agree. "We found broad support for divestment," Neiman added -- among students, administration and foundation members.
Divesting from fossil fuel companies won't have much of an impact on the foundation's portfolio, Neiman said, as the companies the foundation is dropping make up only about 1 percent of the organization's portfolio, which was recently estimated to be worth around $33 million.
In the long run, he said, divestment may hurt or help the district -- but only nominally.
The real value of the divestment comes from the district showing its leadership and commitment to better environmental practices, Neiman said.
Neiman stopped short of taking a position on whether climate change is caused by human activity. But he said, the board believes that climate change is real and that "it's something we need to figure out how to cope with."
If taking this step encourages others in the community to make positive changes on the road toward greater sustainability, that will be a good thing, he said.
Neiman called Silicon Valley a "hotbed of innovation" in green energy and sustainability technology. By taking this step, he said the FHDA Foundation is showing it values projects aimed at improving energy efficiency.