UTSA receives Verizon grant to create domestic violence prevention program

gift presentation

From left are: Rogelio Saenz (dean, College of Public Policy), David O. Russell (Verizon vice president of external affairs), Amy Chanmugam (professor of social work), Mariluz Martinez (Verizon associate director) and Martell Teasley (chair, Department of Social Work).

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(Dec. 4, 2014) -- The University of Texas at San Antonio has received a $22,000 gift from the Verizon Foundation to establish a training program dedicated to domestic violence prevention. The Verizon Domestic Violence Prevention Scholars program will support graduate students in the UTSA Department of Social Work who are interested in domestic violence prevention. This is UTSA's first major gift from the Verizon Foundation.

The new program will increase the ability of future social work practitioners to identify and respond to domestic violence. UTSA graduate students selected to participate will work with social service agencies and UTSA social work faculty to address domestic violence issues in the community. The Verizon gift also provides funds for domestic violence training for UTSA social work alumni and other frontline practitioners already working in the community.

David O. Russell, vice president of external affairs for Verizon -- South Area, explained that there is a great need to train social work students in domestic violence prevention and response. According to Russell, Verizon hopes that through the creation of the scholars program, it will be able to address that need and instill a greater awareness among students about domestic violence.

:A key to the prevention of future domestic violence victims is creating greater awareness among young people as they begin forming relationships about the warning signs of potential abuse," said Russell. "Our goal is to help victims while, at the same time, searching for ways to reduce and eliminate domestic violence in our communities."

According to a recent report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), roughly one in three women in the United States will experience some form of intimate partner violence in their lifetimes. An estimated 71 percent of women and nearly 60 percent of men who experience some form of intimate partner violence will do so before age 25.

Over the course of the program, Verizon Domestic Violence Prevention Scholars will conduct domestic violence screening assessments, learn to counsel victims, complete mental health assessments and create domestic violence prevention materials for future UTSA social work students and local agencies that serve domestic violence victims. Each scholar will complete 450 hours of service at a social service organization in South and Central Texas.

Amy Chanmugam, assistant professor in the Department of Social Work, will oversee and mentor the scholars throughout their tenure in the program. This year, Chanmugam presented a proposal to the Verizon Foundation for the program that would educate social work students in the best methods to respond to and address the needs of domestic violence victims. She will create the curricula for the program.

"Domestic violence victims face many barriers to receiving help including stigma, social isolation and lack of proper training among some service providers," said Chanmugam. "With Verizon's generous support, UTSA has the ability to provide interested graduate students in the Department of Social Work with in-depth training in the skills and knowledge necessary to respond to domestic violence."

The UTSA Department of Social Work is focused on educating transformative, culturally competent social workers who serve their communities. The department maintains strong partnerships and frequently collaborates with a wide range of government and non-government social service organizations to provide its students and faculty with research opportunities and community change efforts that strengthen services to clients.

Since 2000, the Verizon Foundation has invested more than half a billion dollars to improve the communities where Verizon employees work and live. Verizon employees are generous with their donations and their time, having logged more than 6.8 million hours of service to make a positive difference in their communities.

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For more information, visit the UTSA Department of Social Work, UTSA College of Public Policy and Verizon Foundation websites.

Connect online with the Verizon Foundation on Facebook and Twitter.

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