Summarized by Kent Larsen
Romney Brings Her Activism to Utah
Salt Lake Tribune 31May00 P2
By Peggy Fletcher Stack: Salt Lake Tribune
SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH -- Ann Romney, wife of the Salt Lake Organizing
Committee's Mitt Romney, was the focus of a discussion at the University of
Utah's Hinckley Institute of Politics yesterday, where the results of her
work to get the programs of churches in Boston funded by the United Way of
Massachusetts Bay will be examined. Romney, who still serves on the board of
the Boston-area charity, will host the discussion as a way of bringing her
activism to Utah.
Romney's suggestion came following a tour she took as a member of the
governing board of the United Way of Massachusetts Bay. The board visited 13
of the region's most distressed neighborhoods, and discovered that local
churches were making impressive efforts to improve their neighborhoods,
providing after-school programs, substance abuse counseling and fighting
Romney then suggested that the United Way seek to fund the efforts these
churches were already making. And to her surprise, the board unanimously
approved her proposal. In 1999, the United Way of Massachusetts Bay launched
its Faith in Action Initiative to fund the Churches.
Traditionally, the United Way hasn't supported "programs with a significant
spiritual focus," according to a March report of the Annie E. Casey
Foundation, which studied the program resulting from Romney's suggestion.
But Romney and the board in Massachusetts discovered that some Boston
neighborhoods were "underserved by traditional social services
organizations," and that churches were stepping-in to fill the void. "It
became clear that if the United Way excluded these faith-based programs from
its funding, important needs of the community would not be met," said the
To meet the community needs, the United Way of Massachusetts Bay simply
changed the strict criteria that an agency faces to become a United Way
agency. The expanded criteria now allow a "spiritual component."
But Deborah Bayle of Utah's United Way says that the Massachusetts program
isn't likely to be used in Utah any time soon. "I'm not sure it wouldn't
work, but we just don't have the resources at this point to do it," Bayle
said. she says that the United Way of Utah, which raised $7.35 million last
year, raises much less money than the United Way in other, similar-sized
cities. Columbus, Ohio raised $43 million last year and Tulsa, Oklahoma
raised $21 million.