With the recent scandal over Foxconn (factory supplier of Apple and many other tech giants), as well as the fixed-pricing ebook incident, the integrity of the tech industry of late leaves a lot to be desired. That being said, I was pleasantly surprised to hear of the University of Kentucky's announcement that Verizon Wireless will be funding a scholarship program for abused women.
The Center for Research on Violence Against Women established the project, and Verizon allocated $100,000 from its HopeLine phone recycling program to fund this noble endeavor. Similarly, last year, Verizon donated $100,000 to several abuse-related agencies and organizations. Known as the Women's Empowerment Scholarship Program, the goal is to provide five Empowerment Scholarships. Verizon's donation, which equates to 30,000 phones, created the first of these: the Verizon Wireless Women's Empowerment Scholarship.
Women's Empowerment Scholarship Program
It's not just a scholarship -- rather, it's duly described as a package. The program provides an academic advisor from the University of Kentucky, as well as an advocate from the Bluegrass Domestic Violence Program to help keep the holder of the scholarship protected.
According to Verizon public relations manager Michelle Gilbert:
"The Verizon Wireless Women's Empowerment Scholarship creates a legacy of higher education opportunities for domestic violence survivors who are yet to even be born..."
The program focuses on helping victims by improving their overall quality of life; a higher education is not only mentally enriching, but it provides higher earning potential to keep women out of dangerous situations associated with poverty. Hopefully other tech companies can redeem the industry by following this lead.
Verizon's HopeLine program takes your old phones, batteries, and other phone accessories, regardless of the carrier or condition of the items. These are then refurbished, sold, or recycled -- and the profits are used to issue cash grants to organizations that treat and prevent domestic violence. Used phones may also be granted to domestic violence survivors affiliated with a participating organization. These prepaid phones give survivors 3,000 anytime minutes with the hopes of at least playing a small part in helping abused women get back on their feet. You can find out how to donate your smartphone on the HopeLine web site. Even if you aren't ready to part with your gadget, the HopeLine web site also details how you can help the cause by running a phone drive or joining the Verizon Foundation.
Take part in creating change
Yesterday was Earth Day, and while quite a few IT folks grumble about "green," it's important to do your part -- whether you donate to HopeLine or seek out more general recycling options from companies such as Apple. I myself am a techie always in search of ways to make the world a better place. While this scholarship program is wonderful on its own, it's also a reminder of the opportunities available to us everyday to make our contributions, no matter how small. We should take it as our duty to take part in programs like these so that it might give others cause for pause. As Gandhi once said, "If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change."
How have you made a positive impact with technology, and how will your organization make a concerted effort in the future? Please share your thoughts in the discussion thread below.
Brandy Courtade has spent her whole life tinkering with whatever gadgets and technologies she can get her hands on. She contributes to the IT news analysis site Infoboom and is also a Gadgets Examiner for Examiner.com.