Group aims to help educate women, men who left polygamy

A group, just several months old, is about to give its first scholarships to young people who have left polygamy; the money is modest now, but the aims are much larger. (Photo: KUTV)

(KUTV) -- A group, just several months old, is about to give its first scholarships to young people who have left polygamy. The money is modest, but the aims are much larger.

“I was just 20 and I left a polygamous marriage with my two kids,” said Lu Ann Cooper, who along with other women once in polygamous communities, formed the organization Hope After Polygamy. “That first year was crazy.”

She said she was born and raised in a polygamous family, and at age 15 became the fourth wife of her cousin. Soon, with two young daughters, no high school diploma, and hardly any money, she removed herself from the only lifestyle she had ever known.

It’s a traumatic experience. We just need to give them the tools that they need to be able to work towards a better life.

She was able to graduate from high school, attend community college, and become a real estate agent.

Hope After Polygamy has been fundraising since June, said it’s taken in roughly $10,000, and will give a total of $3,300 in scholarships to six people on Monday. It’s also facilitating one person’s quest to get a GED.

“I’ve wanted to do this for a really long time,” said another founder, Julie Adkison, who also grew up in polygamy, left at 19, and has now graduated from college.

When you leave polygamy, you’re socially awkward, you don’t know how to interact with people, you don’t know how things really work.

She described the experience as “culture shock,” and signaled Hope After Polygamy could help fill a void.

“I like that we have this set up now,” she said, “and where it’s going.”


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