CONTACT:

John O’Malley, Verizon                                                    
585.321.7264 or 585.261.5899                                                          
john.omalley@verizonwireless.com
http://twitter.com/johnnyverizon

or

Suzanne Cecala, New York State Office for the
Prevention of Domestic Violence (OPDV)
518.457.5744
suzanne.cecala@opdv.ny.gov
www.opdv.ny.gov

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE : Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Verizon Launches Domestic Violence Entrepreneurship Program in New York State

Program to provide one-time grants to entrepreneurs
who have escaped the cycle of domestic violence

ALBANY, N.Y. – Verizon Wireless and the Verizon Foundation, in conjunction with the New York State Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence (OPDV), today announced the launch of the Verizon Domestic Violence Entrepreneurship Grant Program, which will provide grants to domestic violence survivors to help them successfully develop small businesses.

Verizon Wireless and the Verizon Foundation are donating a total of $45,000 to fund the grant program. One-time grants will range from $500 to $2,500 per applicant and can be used to make a down payment on a work space, purchase a computer or other office equipment, purchase initial product inventory, as collateral to support the receipt of a small business loan, pay for child care or transportation necessary to complete entrepreneurship classes, or other start-up costs.

Knowing of Verizon’s strong support of domestic violence survivors through its HopeLine initiative and other grant-making activities, OPDV Executive Director Amy Barasch approached the company with the idea for the scholarships, and Verizon put the idea into action.  The grant program is based on the premise that domestic violence survivors, through their past experience and the coping and problem-solving skills they developed to escape the cycle of violence, are uniquely prepared to step into an entrepreneurial role.

The program was announced today during a joint press conference at Equinox Community Services of Albany, which has been providing domestic violence services since 1984.

“For many domestic violence survivors, escaping an abusive spouse or partner is only half the battle,” said Russ Preite, president of Verizon Wireless’ Upstate New York Region. “Moving forward and creating an independent, self-sufficient life is a critical next step. It’s our hope that the Verizon Domestic Violence Entrepreneurship Program will help some of these women put their hard-won skills to work to successfully bring a small business to life and regain their independence.”

Added Executive Director Barasch: “We are so pleased that Verizon was interested in developing their historic support of domestic violence survivors in this new direction.  In tough fiscal times such as these, creating small businesses can actually be a smart economic decision, and for domestic violence survivors, a safe one as well. We hope that this new resource will encourage entrepreneurship programs across the state to establish working relationships with their local domestic violence providers, giving them access to promising new students who will be able to reach safe self-sufficiency while growing the state’s economy. ”

Applicants will be required to submit must a business plan, and be enrolled in, or have completed an entrepreneurship assistance program, many of which are offered across the state through local chambers of commerce or schools and universities. New York State’s Empire State Development funds a network of entrepreneurship assistance programs across New York.

The partnership between entrepreneurship programs and domestic violence programs makes a great deal of sense: in 2007-08, 60 percent of the state-supported entrepreneurship program graduates were female, and the programs overall resulted in significant increased sales, employee retention, and new jobs.  In addition, many existing entrepreneurship programs have graduated domestic violence survivors, even though the programs may not know that fact.

“I applaud the New York State Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence, Verizon Wireless and the Verizon Foundation, for their efforts in launching this important program,” said Dennis M. Mullen, chairman and CEO of Empire State Development.  “Governor Paterson and ESD are committed to helping New Yorkers to overcome obstacles and achieve financial stability.   New York State’s Entrepreneurial Assistance Program has assisted new and aspiring entrepreneurs in developing basic business management skills, refining business concepts, devising early-stage marketing plans and preparation of action plans. We have heard many stories about survivors of domestic violence who have come to our EAP Centers looking to build their business skills and fulfill their small business dreams. The grant program announced today is a chance at another start for those individuals and another step towards supporting the growth and development of small businesses across New York.”

In New York State, 87 percent of all business enterprises have four employees or less, illustrating that entrepreneurs and small business owners play a significant role in the state’s economy and will be a key force in the state’s economic recovery. In addition, the successful development of a small business can bring survivors increased control over their working lives, create important financial and social opportunities for them, and help ensure their long-term safety and stability, according to Executive Director Barasch.

Interested individuals can obtain a grant application through their local domestic violence organization – visit http://nyscadv.org/directory.htm for a complete list of programs in New York State – or by sending an e-mail to hopelinesmallbiz@verizonwireless.com.

About Verizon Wireless

Verizon Wireless operates the nation’s most reliable and largest wireless voice and 3G data network, serving nearly 93 million customers. Headquartered in Basking Ridge, N.J., with  81,000 employees nationwide, Verizon Wireless is a joint venture of Verizon Communications (NYSE, NASDAQ: VZ) and Vodafone (LSE, NASDAQ: VOD).  For more information, visit www.verizonwireless.com. To preview and request broadcast-quality video footage and high-resolution stills of Verizon Wireless operations, log on to the Verizon Wireless Multimedia Library at www.verizonwireless.com/multimedia.

About HopeLine

Verizon Wireless, a recognized corporate leader in the fight against domestic violence, works to combat domestic violence and raise awareness of the issue through the company’s HopeLine program.  Marking its 15th year in 2010, HopeLine today collects wireless phones and accessories from any wireless service provider, and then refurbishes the phones or recycles them in an environmentally friendly way.  Proceeds from the HopeLine program benefit victims of domestic violence and non-profit advocacy agencies, providing essential communication tools of wireless phones and wireless services, and financial grants.  Phone donations are accepted at all Verizon Wireless Stores across the country. For additional information, please visit www.verizonwireless.com/hopeline.

About the New York State Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence

The Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence is charged with improving the response of state and local communities to domestic violence. OPDV provides guidance to Executive level staff on policy and legislation; conducts statewide community outreach and public education programs; and trains professionals on addressing domestic violence in a wide array of disciplines, including child welfare, law enforcement and health care. www.opdv.ny.gov

About Empire State Development’s Entrepreneurial Assistance Programs

The Entrepreneurial Assistance Program supports Entrepreneurial Assistance Centers in local communities to provide instruction, training, technical assistance and support services to individuals who have recently started their own business or are interested in starting a business.  The program’s 24 centers are located strategically throughout the state.  For a list of the centers in the state, visit: http://www.empire.state.ny.us/BusinessPrograms/Data/EAP/EAPCenters.pdf