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Posted 24 Feb 2001   For week ended June 04, 2000
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Sent on Mormon-News: 02Jun00

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 gang violence.

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 Casey report.

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.


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