By Rosemary Pollock
Enthusiastic Mormons Boost Perpetual Education Fund
SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH -- An overwhelming response of monetary
donations have flooded The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day
Saint's headquarters in reaction to the announcement on Saturday, by
President Gordon B. Hinckley, that a Perpetual Education Fund was
being established to help deserving members in Third World countries
get an education.
"Phones have been ringing off the hook; people asking, 'How do we do
this?'" said Warner Woodworth, a Brigham Young University Professor
who has been an advocate for educating The Church's poor. "People
are offering $5,000 and $10,000 at a pop," Woodworth said.
LDS Church spokesman, Dale Bills said, "Church officials are very
encouraged by the response of church members who wish to donate to
the Perpetual Education Fund." The fund will be initially financed
by donations from church members and will provide low-interest loans
to young return missionaries from Asia, Africa, Mexico, Central and
South America and the Philippines.
Management of the program will be directed by the Church Educational
System which now has 1,950 Institute of Religion programs from Belize
to Nigeria with more than 316,000 participants. Small scholarships
have previously been administered through the Institute system since
"It entails no new organization, no new personnel, except a volunteer
director and secretary," President Hinckley explained at the 171st
Annual General Conference. "It will cost essentially nothing to
Institute directors will accept applications, make recommendations
for loans and send the information on to Church headquarters. Funds
will then be sent to the institution where an individual will receive
his or her education. The program will begin on a limited basis this
With 40 percent of Brazilian-born missionaries being illiterate, The
Perpetual Education Fund is "an answer to prayer," said Woodworth.
There are lots of jobs in Brazil, but our people aren't qualified to
fill them. This will lift and empower them."
"The situation in Africa is more dire," said George Pingree, former
LDS mission president to Nigeria. "In Nigeria, where unemployment is
at 70 percent, even trained workers can't find jobs. Political and
economic instability could limit the success of this."
Woodworth sees the new educational fund as a "global investment to
educate the have-nots." "We are investing in human capital. That's
something the World Bank and the United Nations are talking about,
but no one has tried," Woodworth said.
"We can't even envision the impact now," Woodworth added. "But it
will be one of the great achievements of The Church of the 21st
century. And it's only the first year."
Mormons Answering the Prayer of Hinckley's Perpetual Education Fund
Salt Lake Tribune 7Apr01 N1
By Peggy Fletcher Stack: Salt Lake Tribune