Skip to content
FFU Campaign in One Page

icon picker
DEMAND 2- Refuse Dirty Money

We demand the university refuse to solicit or promote fossil fuel industry donations whether in the form of gifts, grants or contracts. Such contributions are a conflict of interest: between the interests of the advancement of knowledge and the interests of the merchants of doubt. UW Advancement must screen out the acceptance of gifts made by non-individual*, for-profit entities whose main operations are involved in the promotion, extraction, transport, and sale of fossil fuels. (E.g. Shell, Exxon, American Petroleum Institute, etc.). The Office of Sponsored Programs must refuse to solicit grants or contracts offered by the industry by putting a screen on any incoming contributions. The Office of Corporate and Foundation Relations must refuse to promote grants and gifts from foundations and corporate entities with heavy ties to the petroleum industry and/or the goal of advancing petroleum sciences. One method we suggest is adding an additional requirement or checkbox for companies to disclose that information during the processing of an attempted contribution.*
*The occasion may arise where someone currently or previously employed in the industry may want to contribute on their own behalf. While we do not sanction employment in such a corrupt industry, we acknowledge the variety of reasons why someone may currently or previously have worked for a fossil fuel company. So long as the individual makes a contribution in their own name and is not representing the interests of their (former) employer their is no conflict of interest to accept such contribution.

Target audience:

The UW Board of Regents
Office of Sponsored Programs (OSP)
UW Advancement
UW Office of Corporate and Foundation Relations


Students, Faculty, and Staff do great work at the University! Outside donors often want to contribute money to allow researchers, academics, etc. to continue their great work or facilitate opportunities that would otherwise be left unfunded. These external contributions are into two types:
a. UW Advancement reviews and processes gifts for the University of Washington, the UW Foundation, and the UW’s affiliates and agencies. External support that is determined to be a gift must be processed through .
b. Other UW offices, primarily the office of Corporate and Foundation Relations, promote foundations and corprations that offer gifts and donations to UW students and faculty.
2. Sponsored Programs
The Office of Sponsored Programs (OSP) reviews and processes sponsored program proposals and awards. When external support is determined to be a sponsored program, it must be routed to OSP via an
We already explored in how donations made to the Consolidated Endowment Fund end up being reinvested into the fossil fuel industry. Demand 2 instead focuses on the money coming in from the fossil fuel industry. Big oil has a worked to make our finances increasingly reliant on their support.
EXAMPLE: in 2020, Exxon Mobil reported through their to UW. Exxon, of course, has also given to organizations supporting climate change denial.
What about research? Listed on in 2022 are opportunities to partner with groups like the among others. There are no direct fossil fuel company grants currently being made public but ICA is researching records to uncover more details.

Corporate Research Gifts/Contracts/Donations

The UW ICA chapter submitted a public records request to obtain all records of fossil fuel related gifts, donations, and contracts with the university. The request uncovered multiple recent financial relationships between UW research and the fossil fuel industry. Petroleum companies like BP and Exxon as well as other entities with petroleum based interests like the Charles Koch Foundation.
Here is a breakdown of the amounts contributed by each company. To see more information regarding each one click on the name of the organization.
Public Records Request Breakdown
Amount Contributed
For FF Research?
There are no rows in this table

Office of Corporate and Foundation Relations

The Corporate and Foundation Relations page lists a variety of outside organizations offering funding to students and faculty. The office provides resources and guidelines for interacting with these organizations and plays an important role in funding research projects at UW. We demand that the office becomes more considerate of the conflicts of interests between academics and outside organizations when advertising organizations. ICA has found multiple organizations listed on this page with deep ties to the fossil fuel industry who engage directly in fossil fuel research funding. We have also found other fossil fuel connected organizations meant to subvert progressive environmental causes and critiques of the fossil fuel industry by green washing and appearing to support progressive causes.
Direct Petroleum Research Funding:
American Chemical Society Petroleum Fund
One petroleum related that has provided grants to UW is the American Chemical Society’s (ACS) Petroleum Research Fund. The fund has provided 5 grants to UW faculty from 2017-2020. The Petroleum Research Fund was established within the ACS by oil companies and is directly funded by the petroleum industry. It is described "as a perpetual trust in support of advanced scientific education and fundamental research in the petroleum field" on their website.
Charles Koch Foundation
There are multiple listings for research funding from the Charles Koch Foundation for a variety of disciplines.
Petroleum Related Conflicts of Interest:
Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund
There is a for research funding from the Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation fund, an organization that funds research on endangered species. Mohamed bin Zayed is the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and the Vice Chairman of the Abu Dhabi National Oil company. He is also an and has connections to members of the Trump administration who were . This organization is an example of greenwashing. It creates a false moral character for an autocratic oil baron and UW accepting donations from this organization contributes to this image which is ultimately detrimental to the political processes necessary for a transition to clean energy.
PepsiCo is offering a $25,000 grant to research packaging materials that produce less greenhouse gasses in order to meet their goal if 100% recyclable packaging by 2025 and a 40% reduction in production emissions by 2030. However, the grant description says that submissions will be distinguished for having “cost parity with incumbent packaging”. It also says that “achieving GHG reduction solely by conversation to renewable energy” is not an acceptable proposition. This is a great example of corporate greenwashing. PepsiCo knows that these goals are good PR but they are only interested in changing their packaging process to the extent that the consumer recognizes the reduced climate impact. While recyclable/compostable packaging is important to fighting climate change, PepsiCo is still unwilling to overhaul their infrastructure to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. The University should not do R&D that is aimed at subverting true climate change initiative and maintaining petroleum interests within the organization.

Q: Why refuse free money? Isn’t it just better to let a company waste its money, while also benefiting students?

The issue is that Big Oil and other fossil fuel industries are not wasting their money when they spend large amounts on donations. It is very much strategic. Big oil gains three things by donating to institutions like UW:
Exporting R&D—Fossil fuel companies will often contribute grants or other contributions to research in engineering or bankroll projects to develop new technology for fossil fuel extraction. The industry can thus both use universities as a training ground for what they hope will be future employees, and a proxy research lab to have educational institutions innovate the technology they need to maximize their extraction profits. But its not just STEM. The social sciences and communication departments of many Universities have to study the most effective propaganda campaigns.
Example II: BP paid half a million in 2017 to UW for research into the development of oil well barrier technology and another 1/2 million from 2019 to 2021 for the development of Transducer shale exploration technology by students
Greenwashing—A company like Exxon is able to greenwash and present itself as a generous or charitable organization. This placates consumers and makes us more willing to buy into their products because they suddenly become the “charitable company” not “the company which has been for environmental regulations violations more times than we can count.
In reality ExxonMobil reportedly spent just 0.2% of its capital expenditure on sources of low-carbon energy like wind and solar. Meanwhile, such campaigns.
Philosopher has excellently pointed out that industries use negligible but well advertised acts of beneficence to convince us to buy more. By making small environmental improvements or contributions the world is driven to consumer more, thus actually worsening the environmental toll overall.

School to Fossil Fuel Pipeline—Such actions which cast the industry as socially acceptable, also encourage administrators to direct students towards the industry.
In the program details, Exxon explains that only UW affiliated employees (such as alumni) can contribute to the Educational Matching Gift Program. Therefore, should the University want more money from Exxon it would need to direct more of its graduates towards careers in Exxon. This incentivizes and normalizes the University to do the industry’s recruiting for them.
Departments or students may feel grateful for the meager additional funding and wish to pursue similar work to the kind they were exposed to through fossil fuel R&D
Read for more details

A: In short, demanding that UW refuse donations from the fossil fuel industry isn’t just a matter of principal. Yes, if the United States believes that we shouldn’t negotiate with terrorists than we believe the University shouldn’t deal with the industries terrorizing our future prospects and present environment. But more importantly, UW needs to declare independence from the Industry. The more reliant we are on a crumbling industry—whether for their money or their infrastructure— the more vulnerable our university is. In order to cultivate a free environment for the production of knowledge, we have to cut ties with the fossil fuel industry!

Want to print your doc?
This is not the way.
Try clicking the ⋯ next to your doc name or using a keyboard shortcut (
) instead.