Domestic Violence Survivors To Start And Expand Small Businesses With Support From Verizon Entrepreneurship Training Program

HOLYOKE, MA — Nine women, all survivors of domestic abuse, recently graduated from a pilot project in Massachusetts called the Verizon Domestic Violence Entrepreneurship Program. The program provided training to help them start or expand their own small or home-based businesses to achieve greater financial stability and independence.

The Center for Women & Enterprise and local domestic violence agencies Womanshelter/Compañeras in Holyoke and Safe Passage in Northampton worked with Verizon to launch this ten-week program.

The Verizon Foundation gave the Center for Women & Enterprise a grant of $75,000 to develop and deliver an entrepreneurship curriculum tailored to meet the needs of these women entrepreneurs who have escaped the cycle of violence. Womanshelter/Compañeras and Safe Passage each received a $10,000 grant from Verizon to help support the program.

These recent graduates are now equipped with written business plans and many are on their way to start or expand a small or home-based business. In addition to training, Verizon provided six HopeLine grants totaling $20,000 to the aspiring entrepreneurs as seed money towards making their small business dreams a reality. The funding will be used for a variety of purposes including making a down payment on a work space and purchasing office supplies such as computers or other equipment.

“Domestic violence devastates families and communities," said Christine Berberich, president of Verizon Wireless New England. “These survivors have demonstrated that their creativity, determination and resilience – all character traits honed under the toughest of conditions – will serve them well as small business owners. We hope this experience will help these entrepreneurs achieve economic stability to support the next chapter in their lives.”

“Partnering with Verizon enabled CWE to customize a program to meet the needs of survivors of domestic violence,” said Kristin Viera Zecca, Director of Program and Service Delivery at the Center for Women & Enterprise. “Through the program, survivors were able to learn skills that will help them generate income for themselves. Beyond the practical skills, the program helped the participants rebuild their confidence, leaving them stronger to support themselves and their families. At the end of the ten week business planning process, the ultimate show of confidence came from Verizon when they provided grants to six of the graduates to invest in beginning their lives anew – you could see the transformation in the women by just looking at the hope in their eyes.”

The Verizon Domestic Violence Entrepreneurship Program was established in 2010 as a pilot program for residents of New York State, where Verizon Wireless consulted with the New York State Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence to offer workforce development programs in New York City, Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, and Albany.

For well over a decade, Verizon has continuously shared its technology, financial resources and employees to help end domestic and relationship violence as well as work with partners to change the way society views this issue.

Verizon is committed to preventing and raising awareness about domestic violence. Verizon was the first wireless carrier in the nation to collect and recycle no-longer-used cell phones, and has done so on behalf of survivors of domestic violence since January 1999. HopeLine® from Verizon puts the nation’s most reliable network to work in the community by turning no-longer used cell phones into support for domestic violence victims and survivors. The program recycles used cell phones, batteries and accessories and uses the funds generated to donate phones, airtime and funding to domestic violence agencies. Since 2001, HopeLine has collected more than 8 million phones, properly disposed of 1.7 million no-longer-used wireless phones, and kept more than 210 tons of electronic waste and batteries out of landfills.

The Verizon Foundation helps people to live healthy, safe and independent lives by addressing disparities in education, health care and sustainability. Since 2000, the Verizon Foundation has invested more than half a billion dollars to improve the communities where Verizon employees work and live. Verizon’s employees are generous with their donations and their time, having logged more than 6.2 million hours of service to make a positive difference in their communities. For more information, visit

To learn more about HopeLine from Verizon, please visit For more information on Verizon Wireless 3G and 4G LTE networks, products and services, visit or call1-800-2 JOIN IN. Follow Verizon Wireless on Twitter and Tumblr.

About Verizon Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE, Nasdaq: VZ), headquartered in New York, is a global leader in delivering broadband and other wireless and wireline communications services to consumer, business, government and wholesale customers. Verizon Wireless operates America’s most reliable wireless network, with nearly 109 million total connections nationwide. Verizon also provides converged communications, information and entertainment services over America’s most advanced fiber-optic network, and delivers integrated business solutions to customers in more than 150 countries, including all of the Fortune 500. A Dow 30 company with $111 billion in 2011 revenues, Verizon employs a diverse workforce of nearly 194,000. For more information, visit

About Center for Women and EnterpriseThe Center for Women & Enterprise is a nationally known nonprofit organization dedicated to helping people start and grow their businesses. CWE has worked with more than 28,000 Massachusetts and Rhode Island entrepreneurs since 1995. CWE's mission is to empower women to become economically self-sufficient and to prosper through business and entrepreneurship.

About Womanshelter/CompañerasWomanshelter/Compañeras is dedicated to assisting, supporting, and empowering those whose lives are affected by battering and abuse. Founded in 1980 as a grassroots collective, the organization has sheltered more than 2,000 women and children and assisted 30,000 others through community-based support programs.

About Safe PassageSafe Passage is committed to ending domestic violence and oppression in women’s lives. All Safe Passage programs are free, accessible and confidential. Their comprehensive services include shelter, peer-support, counseling, education, advocacy, legal support and community education, and they primarily serve women and children in Hampshire County.