What is Chicago Divests?

Students, faculty, and community members from across the Chicago metropolitan area are demanding that TIAA-CREF divest from several corporations profiting from the occupation of Palestine. Together, we form a grassroots coalition of academics, investors, and concerned citizens known as Chicago Divests.

Chicago Divests organizes TIAA-CREF clients to exercise their rights as shareholders and pressure TIAA-CREF to divest from corporations committing human rights abuses in Palestine. We do this by mobilizing collegiate faculty and staff clients of TIAA-CREF – as well as students and community members – to take action and raise awareness.


With $487 billion in assets, TIAA-CREF is one of the largest retirement fund providers in the United States. TIAA-CREF serves for than 15,000 client institutions, including nearly all colleges and universities in Chicago. TIAA-CREF owes much of its success to its reputation for socially responsible investing. Yet they invest more than $1.5 billion in corporations that profit from the occupation of Palestine.

Chicago Divests specifically identifies six corporations in TIAA-CREF’s portfolio for abetting and profiting from human rights abuses in Palestine. They are:

  • Caterpillar (profits from the destruction of Palestinian homes and orchards by supplying armor-plated and weaponized bulldozers for systematic demolitions)
  • Elbit Systems (profits from providing surveillance equipment mounted on the separation wall, which the International Court of Justice declared unlawful)
  • Motorola Solutions (profits from Israel’s control of the Palestinian populaiton by providing surveillance systems around Israeli settlements, checkpoints, and military camps in the West Bank, as well as communication systems to the Israeli army and West Bank settlers)
  • Northrop Grumman (profites from the production of parts for the Apache helicopters and F-16 aircraft used by Israel against civilians in Gaza during Israel’s 2009-09 assault)
  • Hewlett-Packard (profits from Israel’s system of racial control of the Palestinian population by operating biometric scanners at checkpoints in the West Bank)
  • Veolia (profits from racial segregation by operating Israeli-only buses in the West Bank and overseeing the use of a landfill for Israeli settlers built on Palestinian land)

What We Are Asking

TIAA-CREF has staked its reputation on “financial services for the greater good.” We want TIAA-CREF to uphold its commitment to socially responsible investing with corporations operating in Israel and Palestine. TIAA-CREF avoided investment in Apartheid South Africa and divested from corporations complicit in the Darfur Genocide. We ask that TIAA-CREF continues its ethical investment practices and divest from the occupation of Palestine.

Chicago Divests does not seek wholesale divestment from Israel or the Israeli government. We only ask the TIAA-CREF apply the same standards they’ve used in other regions of conflict and human rights violations. Chicago Divests also does not want divestment from TIAA-CREF itself. Rather, we ask shareholders and members of client institutions to join us in voicing their concerns.


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