A publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Verizon makes $20,000 grant to Kentucky Coalition Against Domestic Violence (KCADV)

Verizon has made a $20,000 grant to the Kentucky Coalition Against Domestic Violence (KCADV) to support its Economic Empowerment program.

The funds will be used to support financial education classes, credit counseling, Individual Development Accounts (IDAs), and microloans for survivors served by the state’s 15 regional domestic violence programs and state community college system. The program serves 2,600 participants annually.

The grant helps domestic violence survivors like Heather Wyatt. Three years ago, Heather was a new mom, high school dropout and fleeing an abusive partner. She moved from Virginia to Kentucky to escape the violence and couch-surfed at the homes of an aunt and friend in Glasgow. She enrolled in the Kentucky Community and Technical College System’s Work and Learn program to earn her GED, and through her counselor learned about KCADV’s Economic Empowerment program.

“When I came into this program I was homeless, uneducated and a brand-new single mother,” said Ms. Wyatt; “I had no money and no idea where to start.” She enrolled in the IDA savings program and focused on building her credit.

Less than a year after earning her GED, she enrolled at Southcentral Kentucky Community and Technical College where she is working on an Applied Associates in Science in software programming. The IDA program matches her savings for school 4-to-1 and credit counseling helped her increase her credit score to 714. With rental assistance, she and her son are living in their own home and she looks forward to pursuing a B.S. in computer programming at Western Kentucky University.

The grant is the latest example of Verizon’s commitment to domestic violence awareness and prevention efforts through the Verizon Foundation, said Steve Van Dinter, public relations manager for Verizon’s Great Lakes Market.

“KCADV’s Economic Empowerment Program is instrumental in helping domestic violence survivors like Heather become self-sufficient,” Van Dinter said. “Verizon is proud to be part of this community-coordinated response to a significant problem that affects far too many people.”  

The nationally recognized Economic Empowerment Program was born out of frustration in 2004 when executive directors of KCADV shelters lamented that they were serving the daughters and granddaughters of previous clients. They committed to economic empowerment as a strategy to break the cycle of violence and poverty.

“Verizon has been with us on this journey. They have supported new and innovative approaches as we developed this program,” said Deputy Director Mary O’Doherty. “What’s really rewarding is seeing the survivors like Heather work hard in the program to change their lives. To date, 749 participants have built savings to purchase a home, education, small business or car. This is astounding when you realize that many of these survivors (most with dependent children) came to us living in fear and with just the clothes on their backs.”

In 2016, KCADV published evaluations conducted by University of Kentucky researcher Jennifer Cole, Ph.D. that showed Economic Empowerment program participants made significant improvements in their financial practices, economic conditions and quality of life.

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