Monroe Community College is launching a new $100,000 initiative to provide domestic abuse survivors in the Greater Rochester area with skills and know-how to start small businesses and become successful entrepreneurs.
The Business Entrepreneurship Program is funded by the Verizon Foundation and works with those who have suffered abuse, a population that often struggles with employment, college officials said.
The college highlighted the case of participant Susan Still, a Rochester women’s rights activist who still carries physical and emotional scars from a 24-year-long abusive relationship. She left her husband in 2003 and filed charges, with her husband being given a 36-year sentence, the longest in the nation in a case of domestic abuse where the victim survived.
“Survivors of domestic violence may have had little or no economic independence while in their abusive relationship,” said Janine Lucas, assistant executive director of Alternatives for Battered Women. “Their abusers may have left them straddled with debt and/or credit damage, or the abuse may have made it difficult for them to obtain or maintain employment.”
The program grew out of a collaboration among MCC, Alternatives for Battered Women and New York State Small Business Development Center at The College at Brockport. Over the next five months, participants will take a series of business courses on topics like financial literacy, legal issues and marketing.
Participants then have the option of spending an additional three months to develop a viable business plan with the advisement of the Small Business Development Center, and graduates of the program are eligible for up to $5,000 in start-up funding from Verizon.
MCC officials said they aim to serve up to 75 women by May.
“In this innovation-based economy, knowledge creation is no longer enough,” said Anne Kress, MCC president. “Economic growth depends on translating that knowledge into tangible, measurable benefits. Through this program, women will develop an entrepreneurial mindset and a network of connections that will carry them far in their new careers as many graduates in our entrepreneurial degree program have realized. With Verizon’s support, together we are creating promising futures for domestic violence survivors and spurring our local economy forward.”
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