TIAA-Divest!’s National Month of Action: April 2022

On April 1st, a large crowd of peaceful demonstrators participated in a multi-phased action at TIAA Headquarters in Manhattan. Evading TIAA security guards, nine activists wearing “TIAA Divest from Climate Chaos” and “Stop Land Grabs” t-shirts occupied TIAA’s lobby and delivered our petition, with 21,739 signatures, addressed to TIAA CEO Thasunda Brown Duckett. The petition calls on the retirement giant to halt new investments in fossil fuels; fully divest from fossil fuels by 2025; and immediately stop TIAA’s acquisition of farm and timberland around the world, which is contributing to land grabs, deforestation, and environmental destruction, a major driver of the worsening climate crisis. In addition, Outside the building, educators forcefully demanded that TIAA stop using their retirement savings to finance the climate crisis. Across the country, TIAA participants organized local actions, at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, faculty delivered a sarcastic “Thank You” cake to TIAA board of Governors member and UW chancellor Rebecca Blank.

Other April TIAA-Divest actions included:

  • Washington, DC
  • Baltimore, MD
  • SUNY New Paltz in New Paltz, NY
  • The Claremont Colleges in Claremont, California
  • Cornell University in Ithaca, NY
  • University of Wisconsin-Madison in Madison Wisconsin
  • University of Pittsburgh in Pittsburgh, PA


TIAA-Divest! Activists picketed in front of TIAA’s New York City office on April 17th, 2021, and then staged a rally outside the gates of Columbia University.

“People now demand control of the investments made ‘for our own good,’ as investments which destroy climate and abuse human rights are not for anyone’s good,” said Molly Ornati, a Brooklyn resident and one of the organizers of a rally at TIAA’s Upper West Side branch office at 108th and Broadway on Saturday morning,  The protest, organized by the “TIAA Divest from Climate Destruction” campaign, confronted the $1.3T investment giant  with three primary demands on Saturday: divest from all fossil fuels, defund Line 3, and stop land grabs.  
“We want TIAA to divest entirely from the fossil fuel industry,” said Bill Kish, who lives a few miles away from what he said is a “polluting and unnecessary  fracked gas power plant,” Cricket Valley Energy, which was directly financed by TIAA as a one-third owner. 
“We demand that TIAA dump their over $3.5M investment in Enbridge, the company funding Line 3,” said Iris Marie Bloom. Enbridge is violating the land, water, and human rights of the Anishinaabe people, upon whose unceded territory Enbridge is building their pipeline “despite vigorous resistance led by Anishinaabe and allied water protectors,” she said. The greenhouse gas emissions from this tar sands oil pipeline, if completed, would be equivalent to greenhouse gas emissions from fifty new coal-fired plants.
The group also demanded that TIAA “stop land grabs,” as TIAA is one of the two largest foreign buyers in Brazil and many of its landholdings lead to displacement of local communities and to deforestation, another driver of climate change. Altamiran Ribeiro, a Brazilian land rights activist representing the Pastoral Land Commission, who was not present at the rally, said the TIAA land grabs harm communities: “They’re losing their lands, losing their seeds, losing their livelihoods, their cultures and traditions.”
Three more protests followed rapidly in succession: the Upper West Side protesters moved to a second location at the gates of Columbia University, to engage with professors whose pensions are held by TIAA; a lively Ithaca protest began simultaneously with the Columbia rally; and all 3 TIAA Divest! actions supported and fed into a larger action organized by Stop The Money Pipeline, called “All Eyes on BlackRock,” in midtown on Saturday.