Four New Jersey Students Named HopeLine from Verizon Scholars

WARREN, NJ — Four students of Rutgers University School of Social Work have been named 2010 HopeLine® from Verizon Scholars, including Jennifer Alles, Tamara Davis, Alberto Olarte and Janina Tauro. Funded by a $100,000 Verizon Wireless grant, the HopeLine Scholarship Fund was created in conjunction with the Center on Violence Against Women & Children, to recognize outstanding graduate students enrolled in the school’s MSW specialization on violence against women and children, the first such program in the country. Income generated by the endowment is used to award scholarships, annually, to at least three students.

“We are thrilled to be able to offer financial assistance to our MSW students through this scholarship,” said Judy Postmus, director of the Center on Violence Against Women & Children at Rutgers School of Social Work. “We have high hopes that each of this year’s recipients will set the standard for other students to learn about and work with survivors of physical and sexual violence.”

Ms. Alles is a first-year Advanced Standing Student in the Rutgers Master’s in Social Work program. She graduated from the Lock Haven University of Pennsylvania (LHU), where she received a Bachelor’s degree in social work and a minor in Women’s Studies. While completing her undergraduate education at LHU, she founded the Women’s Coalition, a student-led organization dedicated to furthering awareness of women’s issues on campus. She completed her field placement at the Family Intervention Crisis Services in Bellefonte, PA.

Ms. Davis is currently a student in the Rutgers Master’s in Social Work (MSW) program. She graduated from Princeton Theological Seminary, where she received her Masters of Divinity. During her studies at the Seminary, Davis created two annual programs to drive awareness of domestic violence and sexual abuse. During an internship at Rutgers, she worked at All Access Mental Healthcare (AAMH) in the Partial Care department managing a group focusing on teaching healthy “Relationship Dynamics.”

Mr. Olarte is in his last year of the Rutgers Master’s in Social Work (MSW) program. He graduated from Montclair State University, where he received his MA in clinical psychology. He has been working with female victims of domestic violence since 1995 when he was hired by Saint Clare’s Hospital to organize the first support group for Latino victims of domestic violence, a group that to this day remains active. Since leaving Saint Clare’s Hospital, he has continued to organize related support groups across several counties in New Jersey, facilitate parenting programs and volunteer his free time to help raise awareness about domestic violence. Finally, he has been working at New Jersey Battered Women’s Service for the last 10 years, running the Spanish group for male batterers.

Ms. Tauro is pursuing a degree in the Rutgers Social Work (MSW) program. She graduated from Southern Connecticut State University, where she received a Bachelor of Arts in English. She currently works as a Parent Educator at Volunteers of America, educating foster and adoptive families on topics such as consistency, communication, and appropriate uses of discipline. She also holds an internship at New Jersey Battered Women’s Services.

Rutgers School of Social Work is one of the largest social work programs in the country. This groundbreaking scholarship helps prepare future social work professionals to work as executives or advocates in domestic violence and sexual assault organizations nationwide.

The Verizon Wireless donation was made possible through the company’s HopeLine phone recycling program, which collects no-longer-used wireless phones at its Communications Stores throughout New Jersey and nationwide. The phones are refurbished, recycled or sold and the proceeds are used to provide wireless phones and cash grants to local shelters and non-profit organizations that focus on domestic violence prevention and awareness. Phones that cannot be refurbished are disposed of in an environmentally sound manner.

Since 2001, Verizon Wireless has collected more than 7 million phones, rewarded more than $7.9 million in cash grants, and distributed over 90,000 HopeLine phones with more than 300 million minutes of free wireless service for use by survivors of domestic violence.

In addition to a successful phone recycling program and funding for non-profit domestic violence prevention organizations, HopeLine includes free wireless service and voice mailboxes for survivors, community and corporate awareness initiatives, and a bilingual “Invest in Yourself” program designed to help survivors re-enter the workforce.

HopeLine phone donations also are accepted at all Verizon Wireless Communications Stores in New Jersey and across the nation. For store locations and additional information, visit  

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About Rutgers University, School of Social Work and the Center on Violence Against Women & Children Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, is the premier public university of New Jersey and one of the oldest and most highly regarded institutions of higher education in the nation. With faculty and staff on its three campuses in Camden, Newark, and New Brunswick, Rutgers is a vibrant academic community committed to the highest standards of teaching, research, and service. Established in 1954, the School of Social Work has a distinguished record of instruction, research, and public service. Today, 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 as well as the Southern New Jersey and Philadelphia area. Part of the School of Social Work, the Center on Violence Against Women & Children strives to eliminate physical, sexual, and other forms of violence against women and children and the power imbalances that permit them. This is 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