By Kent Larsen
LDS Church Starts Perpetual Education Fund
SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH -- More that a year after President Gordon B.
Hinckley mentioned a planned "Perpetual Education Fund" in a speech
at the National Press Club, he officially announced the fund in the
Priesthood Session of the LDS Church's General Conference. The Fund,
modeled on the Church's Perpetual Emigration Fund that was operated
from 1849 to 1887, will provide funds to assist needy Church members,
generally in third world countries, to assist them in obtaining
In his remarks at the conclusion of the Priesthood meeting, President
Hinckley described the need for the fund. After describing how the
Perpetual Emigration Fund of the 1800s worked, he said that many
faithful Church members are in poverty because of a lack of
marketable skills. Faithful members sometimes serve LDS missions,
have their faith strengthened on their missions, and return home to
"fall back into the pit of poverty." "Their future is bleak indeed,"
Hinckley then described the fund, which he indicated has already
received a basic level of funding, enough for it to begin operating
this Fall, from generous church members. Under the plan, church
members would apply through local institute directors in one of the
1,950 institute programs run worldwide. These directors would then
clear the loans with the candidate's bishop and stake president to
verify need. Once approved, the application will be forwarded to Salt
Lake City, which will issue funds directly to the candidate's
The institute director will then track the borrower's progress
through school. Once the borrower's education is complete, he or she
will then repay the loan, replenishing the fund so that others can
At least at first the funds would be available for education at
technical schools, and Hinckley said that it is expected that they
will be trained in the area where they live. He also emphasized that
this is not a new welfare program, saying that those who participate
can hold their heads up high, knowing they repaid their obligations.
"Where there is widespread poverty among our people, we must do all
we can to help them lift themselves, to establish their lives upon a
foundation of self-reliance that can come of training," he said.
"Education is the key to opportunity. This training must be done in
the areas where they live. It will then be suited to the
opportunities of those areas."
President Hinckley also emphasized that this program would be
administered at virtually no cost to the Church, "It entails no new
organization, no new personnel except a volunteer director and
secretary. It will cost essentially nothing to administer. We shall
begin modestly, commencing this fall. We can envision the time when
this program will benefit a very substantial number." He indicated
that the volunteer director would be an emeritus General Authority
who has experience in educational administration.
When President Hinckley spoke at the National Press Club in
Washington D.C. on March 8th last year, he mentioned this same idea.
In that speech he said, "We face a new challenge today. In the
underdeveloped countries we have young men and women, many of them of
capacity, but without opportunity to improve themselves. They cannot
do so without help. We are now assisting some and are working on
plans to assist many more to acquire education in their own lands. We
are providing a ladder by which they can climb out of the
impoverishment that surrounds them to make something better of their
lives, to occupy places of honor and respect in society, and to make
a contribution of significance to the nation of which they are a
part." At the time, however, the Church was not able to release
details of the plan.
In his remarks tonight, President Hinckley acknowledged that the fund
may see some problems. He said the Church's plans did anticipate that
some candidates would fail to repay the loans. However, he also said
that the fund had the potential to benefit thousands, and in the
process develop leadership for the Church in other countries and
increase the well-being of church members.
Worldwide Perpetual Education Fund Announced
LDS Church Press Release 31Mar01
President Hinckley Announces Educational Assistance Fund At National Press Club