Event Information About Blue Sky Fund Blue Sky Fund leads school-based, after-school, weekend, and summer programs. Elementary school students can explore the great outdoors through the Explorers program, which helps students engage in their core science requirements through hands-on, field trip experiences in nature. Outdoor Adventure Clubs for middle school students builds character as students are immersed in outdoor activities such as rock climbing, hiking, backpacking, canoeing, kayaking, and camping. Through the organization’s Outdoor Leadership Institute, a diverse set of high school students bond together to meet the challenges of a week-long wilderness trip and year-round community service opportunities as a team. Think back to your last outdoor adventure, and the mind-blowing wonder you experienced in exploring a new environment. Many young people growing up in Richmond’s public housing neighborhoods have not ever experienced the magic of the James River, though they live just a mile or two away. We believe that the outdoors should be a part of every child’s life. By participating in the 2019 Dominion Energy Hike For Kids, you have the power to help connect thousands of inner city kids with the transformational power of nature. As you challenge yourself to a 3-, 8- or 14-mile loop around the river, know that with each step you’re paying it forward. In true peak-bagging fashion, toast the end of your hike with an exclusive Väsen Brewing Company brew that kicks back proceeds to getting Blue Sky Fund kids outside. The Dominion Energy Hike For Kids is made possible by community sponsors, including Dominion Energy, Capital One, Genworth Financial, the Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU, One Digital, Outdoor Access, Riverside Outfitters, and Väsen Brewing Company. Register for eventCheck out trail maps:3.6 Mile Family Hike8.3 Mile Hike14.2 Mile HikeDonate to event Blue Sky Fund makes it possible for kids living in Richmond’s high poverty neighborhoods to experience the joys of our natural world. With both in-school and after-school programming starting in elementary school all the way through high school, Blue Sky Fund provides transformative experiences in nature to over 3,000 students each year. All of the proceeds from the Dominion Energy Hike For Kids directly supports this outdoor education programming for Richmond’s urban youth. © Photography Bridget Williams Calling all outdoor lovers, adventure seekers, and do-gooders! What if your outdoor adventures could also make a BIG impact on a kid’s life? We know you love to hit the open road in search of your next epic adventure to enjoy all that the Great Outdoors has to offer. What if we told you that some of the best trails can be found right in your own backyard? On October 26th, hundreds of hikers will join forces with Blue Sky Fund for their annual Hike For Kids event in the heart of downtown Richmond, Virginia, to discover the beauty of the James River Park System while supporting inner city kids accessing and learning in the outdoors. Within steps of the concrete jungle of downtown, hikers will be treated to scenes of River City’s natural heartbeat: rushing whitewater rapids, winding wooden trails, and ospreys flying overhead.
The Swiss occupational pension scheme Stiftung Auffangeinrichtung BVG, or Foundation Institution Suppletive LPP, is seeking parliamentary approval for its request to open a non-interest bearing account that will help fend off the impact of negative interest rates, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, and potentially rising unemployment.“We are relieved that the Federal Council has accepted our request for a non-interest bearing account and we hope that parliament will approve the proposed amendment,” the Stiftung told IPE in a statement.The institution, supported by the social partners, is required to accept all vested benefits from pension funds if employees cannot transfer them to another fund after the termination of an employment position.In its draft law, which would reform the second pillar, the Federal Council foresees a temporary deployment of vested benefits to the Federal Finance Administration, or Eidgenössischen Finanzverwaltung (EFV), worth up to CHF10bn (€9.3bn), without interest rates, if the funding ratio of the Stiftung Auffangeinrichtung BVG falls below 105%. At the end of May, the funding ratio for Stiftung Auffangeinrichtung BVG stood at 105.85%, down from 108.7% at the end of 2019The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the stock exchanges, negative interest rates adopted by the Swiss National Bank, and the obligation to guarantee nominal value of the vested benefits are taking a toll on the Stiftung.The institution believes that corrections in financial markets, including the one triggered by the coronavirus pandemic, offer more attractive investment opportunities.It tries to seize such opportunities in order to mitigate the result of the investments with negative interest rates, it said, adding that the situation remains challenging, and a new decline in prices on stock exchanges is a real, threatening scenario.Based on the current investment strategy, the foundation’s board is forced to take immediate measures that reduce risk, including a pro-cyclical sale of risky assets (stocks, bonds) and increase liquidity, the government wrote in its message to reform the law.The Stiftung could see a significant inflow of funds because of unemployment, which in turn can lead to a lower funding ratio.“In the medium term, we expect an even stronger inflow of vested benefits due to rising unemployment. For occupational pensions, we anticipate an increase in the bankruptcies of our affiliated employers,” the institution said.In times of negative interest rates, the guarantees for provisions, capital preservation, vested benefits accounts and a statutory conversion rate of 6.8%, is a challenge that can hardly be mastered, it said.In the past, the institution was able to compensate the negative interest on its liquid funds through the returns on other asset classes, and even slightly increase the coverage ratio for vested benefits, from 108% in 2014 to 108.7% in 2019.For Lukas Müller-Brunner, member of the executive board responsible for social policy and social insurance at the Swiss Employers’ Association (SAV), the foundation is in an “almost unsolvable dilemma” caused by the obligation to accept money and the ban to charge negative interest rates.“In this respect, I think it is right that the legislator intervenes, and at least temporarily grants the institution an alternative,” he told IPE.“In this respect, I think it is right that the legislator intervenes, and at least temporarily grants the institution an alternative”Lukas Müller-Brunner, Swiss Employers’ Association (SAV)But the real problems are “structural”, he said, explaining that the inability to control the inflow of money from those insured who immediately join a new pension fund generate an “enormous” volume of capital with guarantee that leads to costs no longer sustainable in the current interest rate environment.The interest of financial service providers in vested benefits is fading due to negative interest rates, he added. The Stiftung Auffangeinrichtung BVG received around CHF1.38bn in vested benefits in 2019. In 2018, the inflow was just under CHF800m, while vested benefits in banks decreased in 2018 by CHF474m.“Interest rates will hardly improve in the foreseeable future, this means that the structural problems at the institution will continue to exist,” Müller-Brunner said.“The current policy approach makes sense in the short term, but does not solve any fundamental problems, and here I see the greatest danger: that one continues to muddle through without discussing the actual causes. In my opinion, there is no way around this,” he said.To read the digital edition of IPE’s latest magazine click here. Once approval is granted, the Stiftung can deposit the money in the new fund for three years, a buffer period to find a long-term solution to its structural problems.“The long-term risk of underfunding becomes very problematic because vested benefits cannot be restructured with negative interest rates,” the Stiftung added in the statement.At the end of May, the funding ratio for Stiftung Auffangeinrichtung BVG stood at 105.85%, down from 108.7% at the end of 2019. In March, the coverage ratio fell to 101.6%.