Better Future Project (BFP) provides coaching, training, and mentorship to student groups pushing colleges and universities to divest their endowments from fossil fuel stocks. BFP has been supporting the campus fossil fuel divestment movement since August 2012. As this movement launched, 350.org hired field staff in every region except New England, where 350.org instead provided BFP directly with funding to hire our own Campus Divestment Organizer from 2012-2015. BFP has been proud to use that funding to help the New England divestment campaigns make tremendous strides. After 350.org changed their field model, we have been proud to continue supporting student leaders through other funding sources starting in the fall of 2015. Since then, we have been deeply supporting student leaders of divestment campaigns through our Climate Organizing Fellowship program, which convenes a cohort of students each year to learn campaign organizing skills and political education and to connect with each other.
Our efforts have focused on colleges and universities in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Connecticut, and Rhode Island, where we have seen multiple first-in-the-nation steps forward, such as the first successful student referendum on divestment and the first arrest of the campus divestment movement, both at Harvard University. BFP played a key role in connecting and supporting the six core schools that came together to launch the Multi-School Fossil Free Divestment Fund, a fund to which alumni can make tax-deductible, interest-earning donations that will go to their alma maters when the schools divest. Early in 2015, after sustained pressure from students guided by BFP’s Campus Divestment Organizer, Lesley University announced plans to divest from direct holdings in fossil fuel companies.
“I came into this knowing absolutely nothing about how to build a movement on campus, let alone win divestment. Better Future Project has helped me grow as a leader in all aspects of the divestment campaign, including gathering student and faculty support, negotiating with our president, and planning actions and events. I can safely say Lesley never would have divested if not for Better Future Project’s campaign strategy support and mentorship.”
-Emilia McGrath, junior at Lesley University
In May 2016, the University of Massachusetts announced it was divesting from all types of fossil fuels, the first major public university system in the nation to do so. BFP played a critical role supporting that campaign, providing coaching and training of student leaders from the start of the campaign until its successful conclusion. BFP also helped to convene student leaders from the different UMass campuses for the first time to facilitate coordinated cross-campus strategy.
In September 2016, Boston University announced that they would no longer invest in coal or tar sands. A year later, they announced their commitment to an aggressive Climate Action Plan that will reduce direct emissions to zero on BU’s campuses by 2040. BFP has coached and supported students of Divest BU from the very start of their campaign, and is continuing to support them as they push for full divestment of all fossil fuels.
In January 2017, BFP coordinated seven campuses in Massachusetts to participate in the #ResistRejectDenial national day of action on fossil fuel divestment following Trump's inauguration. Over 300 students in Massachusetts were mobilized, more than any other region or state.
As of 2018, BFP is currently supporting climate campaigns at Boston College, Boston University, Clark University, College of the Holy Cross, Mount Holyoke College, Northeastern University, Smith College, and Tufts University.