Monday, December 31, 2007

Perpetual Education Fund

I recently wrote about LDS humanitarian services. One of my favorite programs is the Perpetual Education Fund.

Announced in 2001 by LDS Church president Gordon B. Hinckley, the program provides education funds to young men and women around the world. It is patterned after the Perpetual Emigrating Fund, which the Church used to help pioneers cross the country to Salt Lake City in the 1800s. Tens of thousands of Church members received the means to come to Utah, many coming all the way from Europe, and once arriving and establishing a home here paid the money back so that it could be used for others in the same manner.

The new PEF works in much the same way. A fund has been established through the continuing donations of members and friends of the Church. These donations are then used to make loans to young people, generally men and women age 18-30, so that they can get an education in a needed field in their home communities. After graduation, and once employment is secured, the loans are paid back so that they can be used again by others.

When this plan was announced, I rejoiced and along with many others immediately donated to the fund. As a missionary in Uruguay I had often wondered at how fortunate I was to be born in a country that offered so many advantages and possibilities, while many of the people I had come to love did not. The Perpetual Education Fund offered a way for these very people to learn a trade that could enable them to leave their poverty behind and change the course of their family for generations.

The fund has been a great success. None of the donated money is used for administrative costs; all goes towards education. Over 10,000 loans have been made, with the average age of the recipient being 26, 45 percent of whom are women. The program not only offers funds for schooling, but also incorporates training in goal setting, budgeting, and managing finances. Before training, the average income for participants is $135 a month. After training, that increases to $580 per month. Initially, the program has been offered in Latin America, the Caribbean, Philippines, and southeast Africa, but ultimately will only be limited by the number of donations.

As the year ends and we reflect on the past and make plans for the future, might I suggest a worthy cause for our money? By following this link, you can donate to the Perpetual Education Fund and help people in some of the most poverty stricken areas of the world.

9 comments:

WP said...

It is a great thing and had helped many I am certain, but it is busted in Peru ad has been shutdown for some time. One problem is that it does supply assistance for education but no one can live off those funds going to school and there are not jobs to accommodate education, part or full time. Furthermore, the stake presidents have decided the repayment rate was too low and so they, the stake presidents, raised it too high so no one is getting any help.

How do I know this? I have supported a young man going through college for 3 and a half years and there has been no help for him. I have also spoken with the salaried director for So. America at Church Hqs. and he confirmed the situation in Peru.

Then people, including church members, wonder why Peruanos among others seek to enter the US illegally. There are no jobs and there is no opportunity for education.

Cameron said...

WP,

I was surprised by your comment, so I wrote to the PEF and asked them if the program was indeed shut down in Peru. Here is their response:

Cameron, thank you for your inquiry. The Perpetual Education Fund (PEF) is still fully operational in Peru and we are regularly approving loans. While local program guidelines are often applied under the direction of the Area Presidency, the core PEF guidelines are being adhered to in Peru. We appreciate your interest in PEF and we, like you, continue to rejoice in the success of so many student participants around the globe.

Regards,



Stephen R. Baker
Perpetual Education Fund
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
50 E. North Temple St., Room 832
Salt Lake City, UT 84150-1501
email: bakersr@ldschurch.org
Toll Free: 800.453.3860, ext. 24703
Tel: 801.240.4703
Fax: 801.240.5756

WP said...

He fails to tell you it had been shut down and only recently reinstituted, if that is indeed the case. I will ask two faithful young men in Lima if it has indeed been reactiviated. Neither has been eligible due to age.

WP said...

Cameron, this just came form one of my boys in Peru. PEF is busted there:

"Dear George

Thanks to came up with the subject. probably you can reply this email to some body who might be interested in the problem. I live here in Perú and I know what I'm talking about even I tried to get into the PEF program 3 years ago but couldn't make it. let me tell you that many people wants to get acces to the program. all the single adults and young men from my ward wants to get acces to the program even my brother Renzo tried but didn't get anything.

The PEF still exists in Perú but. The reality is that no body gets it because even when the paymets are very low people is not paying back. As you know even when you have a 3 year degree here is hard to get a job. and the employment system from the church in Perú is not good. Actually two weeks ago a member of the stake presidency talked about the same subject in my ward and ask the members please to payback because others cannot be blessed with the PEF because memebers didn't returned the funds. The PEF works if the beneficiary returns the money but becuase no body is paying back no body will get acces till church gets back the money because the same money that gets back to the program is the same money that is giving to the members.
As far as I know from more than 2 years no body is getting acces to the founds. and if some body did is because is in a long waiting list and Returbed missionarys has priority. I can tell for sure no body fom my ward can't get it and no body I know is getting it . just know a few people that gets it a few years ago and now are going to college.

The program is not really working may be needs some adjustments. I don't know why but If you are over 30 you cannot get it. Can somebody expalin me why?

Thanks for the email."

WP said...

Any other comments Cameron?

Know anyone in Peru who is a recent beneficiary of this?

Cameron said...

George, I received a phone call yesterday from a Brother Coombs, who just recently returned from a 5 month stay in Peru as administrator of the PEF in the South America West area. He confirmed that 1 year ago the Area Presidency instituted a new rule whereby no new loans would be given until the repayment rate reached 70%. Four months ago that policy was reversed and new loans are being done currently. Peru is in the bottom quarter for repayment rate at just under 50%. The top quarter of the world reaches an 80% rate. Part of the problem may be that Peru has the lowest return on investment for education in all of latin america, meaning that despite gaining education or training, jobs are still very competetive and average wages don't increase as much after completing schooling. The top performers in school, however, don't have as hard a time finding employment.

So that's some of what I've been able to gather as far as the PEF in Peru is concerned. It is working as it was intended to work. It will be able to grow as more funds are available. Money for the loans comes from two sources. First is the repayment of previous loans. Second comes from donations. These donations make up the corpus of the fund. The earnings from the corpus are what are given as loans, ensuring the fund is truly perpetual. There are currently 28,000 loans disbursed from the PEF, with an average of $1,000 per loan. As more funds become available, the program can increase in scope.

WP said...

Your assessment and Brother Coombs is shaded by a too optimistic view of it all I think. I have a Peruvian 'son' there who knows firsthand the nature of things. Top graduates of their universities do find employment but they are too expensive and the costs are too great for PEF to help anyone. The funds can help pay tuition in second tier schools but there is not enough left to pay rent or buy food or pay for transportation. The view is rather a rosey one we have here about it in Peru.

BTW it was not the Area Presidency who changed the rules about raising the bar or standard on repayment rates it was the Peruvian Stake Presidents. They were persuaded to roll it back after meetings in SL with the Brethren to make it accessible again after General Conference.

Also, my boy is 2nd in his graduating class this year and the job prospects are bleak and he received no aid from PEF, neither his younger brother.

I have shared most of this information with Brother Coombs and he did not refute it but said he would look into it further.

Cameron said...

I'm sorry George, but I don't think I'm painting too rosy a picture here. The PEF is working exactly as it was designed to do. $28 Million in loans have been disbursed to date, and new loans are given all the time. The problems you outline are all real, but they are simply more reasons to donate to the fund, which is precisely the point of my post. With more money, the fund could be opened up to those over 30, it could pay for more, and more expensive, universities, and perhaps expand to even more parts of the world.

Austin said...

I suppose if it's true that there's no jobs for Peruvian young adults even with education AND if its true that repayment rates are low, I would think a good steward would have to balance out the needs and opportunities with Peruvian saints with those in other countries.

The funds are limited.

I hope that the new Peruvian president can do good for the country.