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Posted 01 Apr 2001   For week ended April 06, 2001
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Sent on Mormon-News: 01Apr01

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 marketable skills.

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," he added.

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 educational institution.

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 borrow.

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.

See also:

Worldwide Perpetual Education Fund Announced
LDS Church Press Release 31Mar01

President Hinckley Announces Educational Assistance Fund At National Press Club


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