Domestic violence survivors face numerous challenges as they escape the cycle of violence and rebuild their lives. In addition to escaping their abuser, regaining their financial independence and security can be the biggest obstacle to overcome for many survivors.
An abusive spouse or partner will often wield economic control over the survivor by limiting opportunities to work or controlling access to finances. When they finally do escape an abusive relationship, many find themselves unable or ill-prepared to re-enter the workforce. That continued lack of financial stability can force many survivors to return to their abusers.
In 2010, Verizon Wireless, in partnership with the New York State Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence, introduced a program to help survivors regain their financial independence by providing funding to help start or expand a small or home-based business.
The Verizon Domestic Violence Entrepreneurship Grant Program awards grants up to $5,000 to domestic violence survivors – grants they can use to purchase a computer or other office equipment, make a down payment on a workspace, purchase initial product inventory or supplies – virtually anything they need to pursue their entrepreneurial dreams.
To date, 14 grants totaling more than $57,000 have been awarded across New York State.
Recipients range from a consultant assisting other small businesses with disaster planning, to a maker of designer cakes, cupcakes and cookies, to a woman who launched a home decorating and design business, to another who secured a permanent location for her mobile food service business.
Here’s a video highlighting one of the recipients, Ebony Fletcher, who used her grant to help grow her Brooklyn-based hair and nail salon.
This year, Verizon is expanding its commitment to the program by awarding $500,000 in grants to fund the development of entrepreneurship training programs for domestic violence survivors in Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, Albany and New York City. These programs will provide aspiring entrepreneurs with valuable business skills training and ongoing mentorship as they grow their businesses.
To find out more about Verizon’s HopeLine® program and how it’s helping domestic violence survivors in our communities, please visit www.verizonwireless.com/hopeline.