Nonprofit Agencies Use Technology to Help Victims of Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault

 MEDFORD, Mass. - In recognition of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, in October, the Verizon Foundation is providing a $130,000 grant to help 10 domestic violence service providers and sexual assault service providers across Massachusetts use technology to more efficiently and effectively deliver prevention programs and services.

At a ceremony at Medford City Hall Thursday (Oct. 16), hosted by Mayor Michael McGlynn, leaders of these organizations received funding for programs that focus on victims' services and prevention. The recipients will use the funds to integrate technology into their services by offering data collection systems to service providers; upgrading Web sites; delivering literacy training; providing advocacy services; and using software, e-mail and Web-based technology to collect and distribute information to a wider audience.

"Domestic violence and sexual assault are a serious epidemic that affects people from every walk of life" said Donna Cupelo, Verizon region president of New England. "In fact, one-fifth of all adults employed in the United States have been victims of these crimes. The Verizon Foundation supports programs that prevent domestic violence and sexual assault through education, victim relief and empowerment.  The recipients of these grants should be commended for making a significant impact on the lives of those they serve."

Deborah Fallon, executive director and founder of Portal To Hope, said, "On behalf the victims served by Portal To Hope and the other award recipients, we appreciate the leadership that the Verizon Foundation has demonstrated in the cause to end domestic violence. The Verizon Foundation is truly the leader in the business arena, championing victims' rights and advocating for programs serving victims and their families.  Not only do we consider the Verizon Foundation our partner in ending domestic violence, but we consider the Verizon team as part of our family."

The grants will benefit the following programs:

  • Asian Task Force Against Domestic Violence (ATASK), Boston - $10,000; ATASK will use funds for its Life Skills/English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) Program for Asian survivors of domestic violence. The program will help victims improve their English language skills and ultimately improve their educational, economic, and health outcomes. The goal of the education program is to break the cycle of violence and improve the quality of life for clients by assisting them in becoming self-sufficient role models for their children, peers and the community.

  • Casa Myrna Vasquez, Boston - $10,000; Casa Myrna Vasquez will use Verizon funding to support SafeLink, the Massachusetts toll-free, statewide 24/7 domestic violence hotline (877-785-2020) the organization has been operating since 2000 in partnership with the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families.  The SafeLink hotline, which is staffed round the clock by advocates fluent in English, Spanish and Portuguese, reaches more individuals every year than any other domestic violence service in Massachusetts, giving victims who call immediate access to crisis intervention, supportive listening, safety planning and direct connections to shelters and services in their own community. 

  • Brockton Neighborhood Health Center (BNHC) - $10,000; BNHC will use funds to screen patients coming to the facility for pre-natal visits for signs of domestic violence.  If these signs are identified, BNHC will provide counseling and safe interventions. The counseling program will last through the woman's pregnancy, and will continue after she gives birth and while seeking pediatric care at the health center.

  • Jane Doe Inc. (JDI), Statewide - $40,000; JDI will use funds to bring its statewide data management system to more domestic violence and sexual assault service providers across Massachusetts.  JDI created a confidential, safe and easy-to-use data collection system for its membership that helps sexual assault and domestic violence service providers manage their operations and collect meaningful statewide, aggregate service-delivery data.  The system -- the first comprehensive collection of sexual and domestic violence services statewide -- provides a simplified and consistent reporting mechanism that meets the national best-practice standards for client confidentiality, helps member programs customize their individual data system to collect and compile information important to their communities, and enables better assessment of local and statewide service gaps and evaluation of programs.

  • Help for Abused Women and Their Children (HAWC), Lynn - $10,000; HAWC will use funds to support its Outreach Program in Lynn.  The program enables volunteer legal advocates to help battered individuals navigate the legal process, and provides access to family law attorneys to answer legal questions and provide pro bono services related to issues such as custody, child support and visitation rights.  HAWC also works with the Lynn Police Department to support a Victim Follow-up program to monitor the safety of victims. 

  • The Katie Brown Educational Program (KBEP), Fall River - $10,000; KBEP and the Thomas Chew Memorial Boys & Girls Club will use funds to support a collaborative Youth Violence Prevention Partnership that strives to improve community safety through the delivery of a youth relationship violence prevention program.  KBEP's educators and the Club's staff members are developing a customized curriculum for at-risk youth and teens.  The Club's staff and youth leaders will be trained how to teach this program after school.  The goal is to improve community safety by reversing the widespread occurrence of youth relationship violence.

  • Portal to Hope (PTH), Medford, Everett and Winthrop - $10,000; PTH will use the grant to expand its EVAPorate Violence program in Medford by opening a new office onsite at the Winthrop Police Department.  This partnership, only the second of its kind established in Massachusetts, will help to promote "no tolerance for abuse" on the grassroots level in the community.

  • RESPOND, Somerville - $10,000; RESPOND will use funds to support family-based advocacy services that address the complex needs of those who have seen or continue to witness domestic violence. The program's goal is to provide families, and children in particular, with the tools to heal from trauma and thrive in all aspects of their lives. RESPOND will assess each child's needs, work with the parent to create an advocacy plan, and ensure that families are connected with the resources they need to succeed.

  • Womenshelter/Campaneros (W/C), Holyoke - $10,000; W/C will expand its Web site to improve outreach, engagement and training to ensure that its staff can serve clients with new social-change technologies including podcasts and multimedia.  In addition, W/C will strengthen its infrastructure by subscribing to online fundraising programs intended to help nonprofits improve access to resources like foundations and corporate funders.

  • YWCA of Central Massachusetts in Worcester - $10,000; The YWCA will implement ImProve Outcomes Database Application, which is designed for agencies seeking an efficient and effective way to track and report client outcomes electronically. In addition, funds will be used to upgrade the agency's server, enabling more than one site to access and view the database simultaneously.  The data management system will track the efforts and results of direct service staff; provide the ability to evaluate and make program improvements based on real information; and aid staff in tracking observable changes in participant attitudes, knowledge, behaviors, skills, status or level of functioning.

The Verizon Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Verizon Communications, supports the advancement of literacy and K-12 education through its signature program, Thinkfinity.org, and fosters awareness and prevention of domestic violence.  In 2007, the foundation awarded more than $67.4 million in grants to nonprofit agencies in the United States and abroad. The foundation also matched the charitable donations of Verizon employees and retirees, resulting in $25.1 million in combined contributions. 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 Verizon's inception in 2000.   For more information on the foundation, visit www.verizon.com/foundation.

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 nearly 69 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 employs a diverse workforce of more than 228,600 and last year generated consolidated operating revenues of $93.5 billion.  For more information, visit www.verizon.com.