National Family Justice Center Alliance Announces Program to Provide Electronic Safety Deposit Boxes to Victims of Domestic Violence

The National Family Justice Center Alliance (NFJCA) announced Thursday (Oct. 1) a pilot program to provide electronic safety deposit boxes to approximately 200 domestic violence survivors in the Tampa/St. Petersburg area.

The program, funded as part of a $1 million grant from the Verizon Foundation to the NFJCA last year, will enable participants to store copies of important legal and financial documents on a computer flash drive or on a server at a Family Justice Center location. 

"Victims of domestic violence can amass huge volumes of papers while going through the system seeking help, and they've had to carry all of these documents with them as they go from place to place" said Casey Gwinn, president of the National Family Justice Center Alliance. "The electronic safety deposit box provides a portable, password-protected way to store all these documents securely.  This is using technology to meet the needs of victims, and it has the potential to be used in domestic violence agencies across America."

Gwinn announced the pilot program at an event at the Family Justice Center of Hillsborough County.  The center will serve as one of the primary locations for the pilot program, which the NFJCA hopes to expand nationally. Other pilot locations are: San Diego; Nampa, Idaho; and New Orleans.

The Family Justice Center of Hillsborough County also announced that it received a $15,000 grant from the Verizon Foundation to support local programs and activities.

Michelle Robinson, Verizon Southeast president, said, "At Verizon, we believe technology can play a key role in helping victims of domestic violence remain safe and more quickly receive the assistance and services they need. We are proud to partner with the National Family Justice Center Alliance and the Family Justice Center of Hillsborough County to bring this valuable program to the Tampa area."

Nikki Daniels, executive director of the Family Justice Center of Hillsborough County, said, "Domestic violence is a traumatic experience for survivors and their families. This program will help ease the burden on survivors by making it easier for them to keep track of their important papers, pictures, medical records, police reports and other documents while knowing all their information is in a safe place."

The electronic safety deposit box program is the latest Verizon Foundation-funded innovation of the Family Justice Center Institute, which has developed programs that use technology and best practices to streamline services and provide training for employees and volunteers of Family Justice Centers.   The foundation also funded the creation of the institute, the technology and training arm of the NFJCA.

Pam Tope, president of Verizon Wireless Florida, said, "Verizon Wireless has a long-standing relationship with the Family Justice Center movement, and was the first local business to award a grant to help develop the first Family Justice Center in Florida. We are proud to continue that support today with the launch of this pilot program."

Verizon Wireless helped fund the creation of the first Family Justice Center, located in San Diego, through a Verizon Wireless HopeLine® grant. Since 2001, wireless customers have donated more than 6 million old phones to the HopeLine program, phones that have been turned into nearly $7 million in support for victims of domestic violence and the agencies that assist them.

The Verizon Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Verizon Communications, supports the advancement of literacy and K-12 education and fosters awareness and prevention of domestic violence.  In 2008, the Verizon Foundation awarded more than $68 million in grants to nonprofit agencies in the U.S. and abroad.  It also matched the charitable donations of Verizon employees and retirees, resulting in an additional $26 million in combined contributions to nonprofits.  Through Verizon Volunteers, one of the nation's largest employee volunteer programs, Verizon employees and retirees have volunteered more than 3 million hours of community service since 2000. For more information on the foundation, visit www.verizonfoundation.org.

Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE:VZ), headquartered in New York, is a global leader in delivering broadband and other wireless and wireline communications services to mass market, business, government and wholesale customers.  Verizon Wireless operates America's most reliable wireless network, serving more than 87 million customers nationwide.  Verizon's Wireline operations provide converged communications, information and entertainment services over the nation's most advanced fiber-optic network.  Wireline also includes Verizon Business, which delivers innovative and seamless business solutions to customers around the world.  A Dow 30 company, Verizon employs a diverse workforce of more than 235,000 and last year generated consolidated operating revenues of more than $97 billion.  For more information, visit www.verizon.com.