What's Avon Doing on Domestic Violence Prevention?

Domestic violence is a prevalent problem, and too often, when a victim reaches out to a domestic violence hotline for shelter or other services, no help is available. One step in addressing this problem is getting adequate staffing on hotlines nationally, so at least we know how big the problem is, and where we need more services or shelter to cover the gaps.

The Avon Foundation is aiming to do just that. It's partnering with the National Domestic Violence Hotline (The Hotline) to grant $500,000 to 25 local domestic violence advocacy programs in cities across the U.S., to staff hotlines to respond to domestic violence survivors.

The grant is part of a larger effort by the two organizations that started with #GivingTuesday to raise funds and awareness for local and national domestic violence hotlines. At that time, Avon pledged to match all Giving Tuesday donations to the hotline, in order to expand the availability of 24-hour hotline services. These new grants are going to 25 grantees across the U.S. who will each receive $20,000 to operate 24-hour hotlines through 2016. 

These projects include hotlines in Phoenix, Los Angeles, Detroit and Washington, D.C., with 10 of 25 winning applicants located in California. Most are located in larger cities, but are likely responding to calls from both urban and surrounding communities. The full list of grantees is here.

Did you know that the Avon Foundation for Women is the world's largest corporate-affiliated philanthropy that focuses on women's issues? Neither did I. It's huge. From running some of the largest fundraisers for breast cancer to fighting domestic violence as well as sexual assault on campus, the Avon Foundation has been on the vanguard of some of the most important issues for women since 1955.

Through its Speak Out About Domestic Violence program, Avon has been taking aim at domestic violence in important ways for over a decade. This initiative works to build awareness, educate, and improve prevention and direct service programs for domestic violence. As of 2014, the initiative has contributed $40 million to the cause of domestic violence prevention.

As part of this effort, the foundation funded a recent census of domestic violence programs in the United States on a single day. Conducted by the National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV), the census polled nearly 90 percent of domestic violence programs in September 2014 and found 67,646 victims were served on that single day. The census found that more than half of the victims were seeking information on housing. Due to lack of resources, there were nearly 11,000 unmet requests for services that day.

Katie Ray-Jones, chief executive officer of the National Domestic Violence Hotline, says that the nation's domestic violence programs are currently operating with fewer resources and staff. To further exacerbate the problem, with many fiscal budgets ending on June 30, programs dependent on unrenewed state or federal aid often lay off additional staff in July.

These funds from Avon will keep the programs going, and enable more victims to get help—including counseling, shelter, and legal services—as they try to escape violent and often life-threatening situations.

While this work is done in the name of women, it's important to remember that domestic violence is not just an issue that impacts womenmany boys and men are also victims of domestic violence. The hotline services are responding to the full spectrum of domestic violence problems out there.

The Avon Foundation currently has grant applications open to address key findings of the Avon Foundation-funded NO MÁS survey, the largest and most comprehensive study to date of domestic violence and sexual assault in the U.S. Latino community. Released in April 2015, this survey found that domestic violence and sexual assault are widespread in the U.S. Latino community, and victims face even more barriers than the general population when trying to escape the cycle of violence. 

The deadline for applications for this grant opening is August 7, 2015, and applicants need to demonstrate a clear strategy and tactics for addressing the barriers that Latina victims confront in domestic violence situations. The Avon Foundation will provide 15 grants of up to $100,000 for one year of services through this project.