Rutgers University Receives $200,000 Grant From the Verizon Foundation to Fund Certification Programs for Professionals Assisting Domestic Violence Survivors

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. - Rutgers University's School of Social Work and its Center on Violence Against Women & Children received a $200,000 grant from the Verizon Foundation Wednesday (June 25) to begin a first-of-its kind certification program for social workers and other professionals assisting domestic violence survivors.

The grant will establish the Violence Against Women Continuing Education Program, which will create an interactive, Web-based curriculum to provide continuing education and training.

"Throughout the state, social workers, emergency personnel and others give of themselves daily to assist the victims of domestic violence; but unfortunately, while well-intentioned, many have received little or no professional training for addressing the severe problems domestic violence survivors face," said Judy Postmus, director of the Center on Violence Against Women & Children. "This certification program will give those workers an opportunity to receive training and education in evidence-based, successful practices to best serve those in need."

Through the program, participants can earn several levels of certification: a foundation certificate, an advanced certificate, an advanced clinical work certificate, and an advanced advocacy and nonprofit management certificate.

"Domestic violence is a pervasive social issue that affects every segment of our population," said Dennis Bone, president of Verizon New Jersey. "During the past two years, the Verizon Foundation has committed nearly $10 million to support domestic violence prevention efforts. Verizon is proud to partner with Rutgers on this groundbreaking program."

The grant was announced at a ceremony at the Rutgers University Student Center.  New Jersey Attorney General Anne Milgram was the keynote speaker.

Also at the event, Melanie van der Valk, Verizon Wireless Northeast area vice president of marketing and sales operations, recognized the first group of Verizon Wireless HopeLine® Scholars. HopeLine Scholarships will be awarded annually to at least three Rutgers graduate students enrolled in the School of Social Work's Master of Social Work specialization on violence against women and children.

The first six scholarship winners are: Audrey Allred of Highland Park, N.J.; Kristin Dunne of Pompton Plains, N.J.; Melissa Fogg, of  Princeton, N.J.; Rupa Khetarpal of Basking Ridge, N.J.; Amanda Mathisen of Skillman, N.J.; and Shauna Simmons, of Lawrence, N.J.

The Verizon Wireless donation was made possible through the company's HopeLine phone recycling program, which collects old, no-longer-used cell phones at Verizon Wireless stores throughout New Jersey. The phones are refurbished, recycled or sold, and the proceeds are donated to domestic violence advocacy groups in the form of cash grants and prepaid wireless phones for victims. Phones that cannot be refurbished are disposed of in an environmentally friendly way.

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.

Rutgers School of Social Work: Established in 1954, the School of Social Work at Rutgers University has a distinguished record of instruction, research, and public service. The school offers undergraduate and graduate-professional degree programs, holds classes on Rutgers' three regional campuses, and is affiliated with more than 800 social service agencies throughout the New Jersey/New York metropolitan area.  Established by the School of Social Work in 2007, the mission of the Center on Violence against Women & Children is to strive to eliminate physical, sexual, and other forms of violence against women and children and the power imbalances that permit them.  This mission will be accomplished through the use of a collaborative approach that focuses on multidisciplinary research, education, and training that impacts communities and policy in New Jersey, the U.S., and throughout the world.  For more information, please visit http://vawc.rutgers.edu

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 more than 67 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 employed a diverse workforce of approximately 232,000 as of the end of the first quarter 2008 and last year generated consolidated operating revenues of $93.5 billion.  For more information, visit www.verizon.com.