Verizon donates $100,000 to UK scholarship for battered women

Mary Lynne Capilouto said the program is a boost for victims.
Mary Lynne Capilouto said the program is a boost for victims.

Verizon Wireless will finance the inaugural scholarship in a program for battered women established by the Center for Research on Violence Against Women at the University of Kentucky, officials announced Monday.

A $100,000 donation from Verizon will create the first endowed scholarship for the Women's Empowerment Scholarship program. Verizon's donation will give the university $4,000 in interest income each year for a scholarship for one woman, said Carol Jordan, assistant provost and director of the Center.

The women's empowerment scholarship program is designed to help women get an education as a means of escaping violence and providing for their families.

Women who live in poverty are at increased risk of victimization, Jordan said.

"They are in effect trapped," she said.

Jordan said at a news conference that she knew of no other scholarship program for abused women that is as comprehensive as the one announced Monday.

Scholarship recipients will receive a benefit package of financial aid, academic support and advocacy.

In addition to the scholarship, UK's Office of the Registrar will coordinate the women's access to state and federal financial aid.

Each woman given a scholarship will be assigned an academic advisor to help her succeed. She also will be provided an advocate from the Bluegrass Domestic Violence Program if she needs protection or help such as child care or transportation.

Mary Lynne Capilouto, the wife of UK president Eli Capilouto, was among those who announced the initiative.

"We are opening the door for opportunity to women who have been victimized, and that door is the door to education," Mary Lynne Capilouto said.

The first $4,000 scholarship will probably be given this fall.

The first recipient has not yet been selected, Jordan said.

In addition to the Verizon Wireless Women's Empowerment Scholarship, the Center at UK wants to establish four more Women's Empowerment Scholarships, with help from other donors.

"This is hopefully just a beginning," Jordan said.

In order to be eligible for the scholarship, women have to have participated in one of the programs of the Kentucky Domestic Violence Association. They also have to be pursuing a bachelor's degree at the University of Kentucky.

The Verizon money came from its HopeLine recycling program, which turns used phones into support for domestic-violence survivors, said Michelle Gilbert, a public relations manager for Verizon Wireless.

HopeLine is a national Verizon program that collects phones, batteries and accessories — in any condition, from any carrier — that consumers are no longer using. The phones are refurbished, sold or recycled, and the proceeds are donated to domestic-violence prevention and treatment organizations as cash grants.

The $100,000 donation from Verizon Wireless is the equivalent of nearly 31,000 donated phones, Gilbert said.

"The gift is not just Verizon Wireless giving, but it's people across Lexington, people all across Kentucky and people all across the country who have ... done something good with the devices they are no longer using," Gilbert said.

Verizon also donates prepaid phones to domestic violence organizations for survivors to use.