UK Center for Research on violence against women, Verizon establish scholarship program for battered women

The University of Kentucky has announced Verizon Wireless will fund the inaugural scholarship in a first-of-its-kind program for battered women established by the Center for Research on Violence Against Women.

The Center plans to establish five Empowerment Scholarships under the umbrella of the Women’s Empowerment Scholarship Program. Verizon Wireless donated $100,000 from its HopeLine® from Verizon phone-recycling program to create the first endowed scholarship, which is named the Verizon Wireless Women’s Empowerment Scholarship.

“The Verizon Wireless Women’s Empowerment Scholarship creates a legacy of higher education opportunities for domestic violence survivors who are yet to even be born,” said Michelle Gilbert, Verizon Wireless’ public relations manager for Kentucky, Indiana and Michigan. “It’s a legacy not only from Verizon Wireless, but also from the thousands of individuals in Kentucky and around the country who cleaned their old wireless equipment out of their drawers and donated it to HopeLine.”

The $100,000 donation from Verizon Wireless is the equivalent of nearly 31,000 donated phones, Gilbert added.

The purpose of the Women’s Empowerment Scholarship Program is to assist women in accessing education as a means of escaping violence and providing for their families.

“Education can be a pathway to a quality life for any woman,” said Carol E. Jordan, assistant provost and director of the Center for Research on Violence Against Women, “but it can be a lifesaving path for battered women.

“For too many women, a by-product of intimate partner violence is a lack of education and financial dependence on battering partners. For these women, their alternatives are to remain trapped in violence or flee with their children into poverty. UK and this Center will offer women more alternatives; freedom and non-violence through education.”

Studies show that battered women have unique needs when it comes to accessing college, and that postsecondary education can help them escape the abuse permanently:

On average, women who are college graduates earn significantly more over their lifetimes. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (2011), women over 25 years old with an a bachelor’s degree or higher earn 82 percent more than women with only a high school diploma.

Significantly, that economic benefit can be a protective factor for women against the experience of intimate partner violence, as women living in poverty may be at increased risk of victimization. For example, research using data from the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) found an intimate partner violence rate 5 times lower for top-earning households compared to the lowest-earning households (Greenfield et al., 1998).

Research also shows that experiences of intimate partner violence were associated with lower levels of employment for women during periods of abuse, and also with decreased employment stability six years later (Crowne, et al., 2011).

When women earn higher incomes, they have more financial resources available when they need to leave an abusive relationship. A longitudinal study following 264 women for 3 years after leaving a domestic violence shelter found that women with the least financial resources are the most likely to be re-abused (Bybee & Sullivan, 2005).

To be eligible for a Women’s Empowerment Scholarship, women must have been served through one of the member programs of the Kentucky Domestic Violence Association (KDVA), must apply and have been admitted to the University of Kentucky, and must be planning to secure a bachelor’s degree in a field of their choosing.

A Unique Scholarship Package:
In addition to receiving the scholarship, the Office of the Registrar at UK will coordinate access to state and federal financial aid to which the applicant may be eligible, including academic scholarships, Kentucky Educational Excellence Scholarships, other private scholarships, and need-based financial aid programs.

Women holding a Women’s Empowerment Scholarship will be assigned a UK Academic Advisor to help ensure their academic success; and will be provided an advocate from the local Bluegrass Domestic Violence Program to assist with advocacy or protection needs. This comprehensive benefit package of financial aid, academic support, and advocacy is part of what makes the Center’s Women’s Empowerment Scholarship Program so unique.

HopeLine® from Verizon is a recycling program that turns used phones into support for domestic violence survivors. HopeLine collects phones, batteries and accessories ? in any condition from any carrier ? that consumers are no longer using. The devices are refurbished, sold or recycled and the proceeds are donated to domestic violence prevention and treatment organizations in the form of cash grants. In addition to donating $100,000 to fund the Verizon Wireless Women’s Empowerment Scholarship, in 2011, Verizon Wireless donated a total of $100,000 to multiple domestic violence-related organizations in Kentucky. Verizon also donates prepaid phones to domestic violence organizations for use by survivors.

“As we celebrate the creation of our first Women’s Empowerment Scholarship today, we recognize that just one is not enough,” said Jordan. “We are hopeful that communities across Kentucky will be inspired by the effect that educational access can have for battered women and will add their support to this cause.


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