Southwestern University Receives $50,000 Verizon Foundation Grant for Domestic Violence Prevention Program

Nine Southwestern University interns are currently working full time for 10 weeks this summer for local agencies committed to raising awareness of and preventing domestic violence.  The summer internship program is funded with a $50,000 grant from the Verizon Foundation.

"Domestic violence is a widespread problem that not only impacts families but affects the overall community," said Suzanna Pukys, Southwestern University director of civic engagement and director of the internship program.  "Domestic violence is a pervasive and often invisible issue that we are scrutinizing over the course of the internship. We are working to understand why violence exists in our society, what social structures and norms make it permissible, and what organizations in our community are doing to address it. The generous grant from the Verizon Foundation has cleared away all barriers to student immersion into this important social problem."

The university has partnered with a number of nonprofit organizations in the area, including domestic violence shelters SafePlace and Hope Alliance. Other partners include STARRY (Services To At-Risk and Runaway Youth); Georgetown Police Department Victim's Services Program; and LifeSteps, an agency targeting families with a history of violence tied to substance abuse. 

Throughout the summer, the student interns will integrate themselves into the organizations.  They will receive training and mentoring opportunities to help them develop a broader understanding of each nonprofit's challenges and the complexities of domestic violence.  The program will allow the students to devote their time and talents to helping each organization achieve its mission.

Carl Erhart, president of Verizon's Central region, said, "Verizon constantly seeks new and innovative partnerships to raise awareness, promote prevention and help to break the cycle of domestic violence in our communities.  We are proud to play a role in this summer intern program and its goal to improve the safety of families, especially children, in neighborhoods across Williamson County."

The Verizon Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Verizon Communications, supports the advancement of literacy and K-12 education through its free educational Web site, Thinkfinity.org, 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.

Southwestern University is a selective, nationally recognized undergraduate liberal arts college with an enrollment of 1,260 students.  It is the oldest institution of higher learning in Texas. For more information on Southwestern, visit www.southwestern.edu.

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 86 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 237,000 and last year generated consolidated operating revenues of more than $97 billion.  For more information, visit www.verizon.com.