$300,000 Grant From Verizon Will Help Teenage Girls Build Self-Esteem and Avoid Violent Relationships

LOS ANGELES - Verizon and Verizon Wireless are donating $300,000 over two years to launch Be Strong, a groundbreaking initiative designed to promote self-respect among teenage girls in the Los Angeles County area and to encourage them to develop healthy, nonviolent relationships.

The Be Strong program, to be created and administered by Peace Over Violence (formerly the Los Angeles Commission on Assaults Against Women), will provide high-risk girls with opportunities for education and leadership development. The program's goal is to help participants avoid relationship violence - including rape, dating violence and domestic abuse - and demonstrate respect for their peers.

"Domestic violence is a serious and growing issue facing young people," said Verizon West Region President Tim McCallion. "They need to learn to recognize the fundamental importance of respect for one another and respect for themselves. We are confident that the young women who participate in the Be Strong initiative will break the cycle of violence and fulfill their potential."

John Palmer, regional president of Verizon Wireless, said, "The Be Strong program will not only build resistance to relationship violence among girls just starting to date, but also help them build an online community for ongoing support. We're proud to support Peace Over Violence, its board members, leaders and tireless employees, as the agency launches a new initiative to help girls stop the cycle of violence."

Be Strong participants will learn about ways to avoid potentially violent situations; promote self-health; use the Internet safely; evaluate media images and role models; and build skills for healthy communication within relationships. The girls in the program will then collaborate with local groups to share their knowledge with others in their communities.

A centerpiece of the program will be an online community through which girls can support each other. Features of the online forum will include:

  • A discussion blackboard where registered members can post comments and questions for other members.

  • Facilitated chats with experts in the field of relationship violence and with celebrities such as Calista Flockhart, national spokesperson for Peace Over Violence, and Chris Gardner, whose rags-to-riches story inspired the film "The Pursuit of Happyness."

  • Personal blogs in which individuals can document their experiences of violence and thoughts about violence prevention.

The Verizon Foundation - the philanthropic arm of Verizon Communications - and Verizon Wireless are recognized corporate leaders in the fight against domestic violence. Verizon Wireless provides grants through its HopeLine® phone recycling program, where no-longer-needed wireless phones and accessories from any wireless provider are collected and refurbished or recycled in an environmentally friendly way.  Proceeds from the HopeLine program benefit domestic violence survivors and nonprofit advocacy agencies by providing them essential communication tools - wireless phones and services - and financial grants. 

Since 2001, HopeLine has awarded nearly $4 million in cash grants to domestic violence agencies throughout the country and collected more than 4 million wireless phones.

About the Verizon Foundation
The Verizon Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Verizon Communications, is committed to improving literacy and K-12 education; fostering awareness and prevention of domestic violence; and promoting the use of technology in health-care delivery.  In 2006, the foundation awarded more than $69 million in grants to nonprofit agencies in the United States and abroad.  The foundation also matched charitable donations from Verizon employees and retirees, resulting in $29 million in combined contributions.  Under the foundation's Verizon Volunteer initiative, one of the nation's largest employee-volunteer programs, company employees and retirees also have contributed nearly 3 million hours of community service since Verizon's inception in 2000.  For more information on the foundation, visit www.verizon.com/foundation.
About Verizon Communications Inc.
Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE:VZ), headquartered in New York, is a leader in delivering broadband and other wireline and wireless communication innovations to mass market, business, government and wholesale customers.  Verizon Wireless operates America's most reliable wireless network, serving 63.7 million customers nationwide.  Verizon's Wireline operations include Verizon Business, which delivers innovative and seamless business solutions to customers around the world, and Verizon Telecom, which brings customers the benefits of converged communications, information and entertainment services over the nation's most advanced fiber-optic network.  A Dow 30 company, Verizon has a diverse workforce of nearly 238,000 and last year generated consolidated operating revenues of more than $88 billion.  For more information, visit www.verizon.com.

About Verizon Wireless
Verizon Wireless operates the nation's most reliable wireless voice and data network, serving 63.7 million customers. The largest U.S. wireless company and largest wireless data provider, based on revenues, Verizon Wireless is headquartered in Basking Ridge, N.J., with 68,000 employees nationwide. The company is a joint venture of Verizon Communications (NYSE: VZ) and Vodafone (NYSE and LSE: VOD). Find more information on the Web at www.verizonwireless.com. To preview and request broadcast-quality video footage and high-resolution stills of Verizon Wireless operations, log on to the Verizon Wireless Multimedia Library at www.verizonwireless.com/multimedia..

About Peace Over Violence
Peace Over Violence is a non-profit, feminist, multicultural, volunteer organization dedicated to building healthy relationships, families and communities free from sexual, domestic and interpersonal violence. To achieve this mission our agency manages five departments delivering the services of Emergency, Intervention, Prevention, Education and Advocacy.