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Expanded Financial Education, Domestic Violence Services for KY College Students

PHOTO: Shreevia Brown is one of hundreds of students taking advantage of a new effort to bring more financial and domestic-violence support services to community college students across Kentucky. Photo courtesy Michele Fiore.
PHOTO: Shreevia Brown is one of hundreds of students taking advantage of a new effort to bring more financial and domestic-violence support services to community college students across Kentucky. Photo courtesy Michele Fiore.
October 17, 2014

FRANKFORT, Ky. - Extending financial and domestic violence support services to more college students is the goal behind a new collaboration. The Kentucky Coalition Against Domestic Violence is partnering with the state's community and technical colleges. The Coalition's Mary O'Doherty, Economic Empowerment project director, says around 2,000 students in the Ready-to-Work, Work-and-Learn program will be helped.

"They'll get what we call economic empowerment services, learning how to budget and handle debt and build credit," says O'Doherty.

The project is funded with $400,000 in grants from two national foundations, the W. K. Kellogg Foundation and the FINRA Foundation, and $300,000 from the Kentucky Community and Technical College System.

O'Doherty says about 160 students will be able to open Individual Development Accounts in which a student's savings is matched four to one. Students who complete the program will have $5,000. Shreevia Brown, a student at Bluegrass Community and Technical College, has such an account. She says it is helping ease the economic stress of getting a college education.

"It's a stepping-stone to help better my financial situation for the future," Brown says. "This is something I have just now learned: how to just be financially aware."

Brown is a survivor of domestic violence. She enrolled in college last year and says her goal is to get a degree in social work. Brown says she deposits $20 a month from her job in the college's admissions office directly into her IDA.

Noting that one in four women will experience domestic violence in their lifetimes, O'Doherty says the project is a way to "build a stronger bridge" between the colleges and the Coalition's statewide network of domestic-violence programs. O'Doherty says that's vital because half the students participating in the project so far have said they are survivors.

"If we can make sure more students get referred for services and more staff members at the colleges understand what domestic violence is, how to recognize it and how to refer to our agencies for services, we really will help students finish college," she says.

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

Greg Stotelmyer , Public News Service - KY