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Posted 16 Apr 2001   For week ended April 13, 2001
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Sent on Mormon-News: 12Apr01

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 the 1980's.

"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 administer."

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 fall.

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


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