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Perpetual Education Fund Wages War on Poverty

In General Conference on March 31, 2001, President Gordon B. Hinckley announced a “bold initiative” called the Perpetual Education Fund.  PEF believes that  “education is the key to opportunity.” Twelve years later contributions large and small from donors worldwide have allowed the initiative to bless the participants. Elder John H. Cormack, Emeritus Member of the Quorum of the Seventy, says it is “rescuing the saints from the curse of poverty.”

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Young adults interested in participating can meet with local priesthood leaders and begin the process to receive loans to attend schools in their communities.  Working with priesthood leaders, they plan for their future as they seek to complete their education leading to viable careers. In the past 12 years, it has improved the lives of over 50,000 participants in more than 50 countries. In the Philippines, over 2,500 have been blessed with the opportunity of furthering their education.

Richard Espinoza, Tarlac Stake (diocese) President and Seminary & Institute Coordinator,  from the Philippines said, “A year and a half after my mission I was married in the temple. At that time I was pursuing my Bachelor of Science Degree in Education. Our family finances became really limited as my mother, who was helping me finance my schooling, lost her job. I started to lose hope that I would ever be able to finish my education and bring my family out of poverty.  The PEF loan I received enabled me to go back to school, and eventually I obtained a teaching position at a high school. It was an answer to my prayers.  The PEF program was a miracle to my family.”

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A good education will help enable a person to lift him and his family out of the chains of poverty.  Young adults will marry and go forward with skills that will qualify them to earn well and take their places in society where they can make a substantial contribution.”

From the PEF, loans are made to young men and women that they may borrow money to attend school.  Many of the participants are returned missionaries. Later as they graduate, gain employment and begin working, they will begin to repay the loan plus a small interest. They will have the opportunity to attend technical schools and learn skills which are in demand.  They may also choose an educational path in the professions.

There are now over 2,500 students from the Philippines presently enrolled in the program. Some of the success stories from PEF graduates in the Philippines are:

•    Jared is a web designer for an international hotel company
•    Clea found a job as a monitoring and evaluation assistant
•    Jenny was offered a job in education as a teacher
•    Antonio has a degree in civil engineering
•    Arvel is a small business owner                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      

As the money is repaid it can then be loaned to other students and the fund becomes perpetual. The blessings are not only financial but also spiritual and social as lives are blessed. It opens the door of opportunity and hope that was once thought to be closed.

Franco Advincula, PEF Manager said, "I will always believe that PEF is the modern manna.  Recipients are expected to work and be qualified to fully enjoy the promised blessings of the program.  Those participants who are committed and willing to do whatever it takes to realize their dreams are now enjoying the blessings of PEF through their diligence, perseverance and faith."

Twelve years ago, President Hinckley established the program in the church and his prophetic vision has blessed the lives of countless thousands. President Hinckley said, “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. Education is the key to opportunity.”

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