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For Immediate Release: 4/4/2017
Janine Kava | | (518) 457-8906 | (518) 275-5508 (cell)
Press Office, Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence


New York State Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence provides grants through its Ursula Forem Domestic Violence Program Employment Fellowship

Family Justice Center of Erie County and the YWCA of the Niagara Frontier will each hire a young professional for two years to enhance services for victims and survivors

The New York State Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence today announced $150,000 in state funding for a pair of domestic violence programs in western New York, allowing each of them to hire a graduate student or recent college graduate to help enhance the services they provide. The Family Justice Center of Erie County and YWCA of the Niagara Frontier each received an Ursula Forem Domestic Violence Program Employment Fellowship, which will fund the salary and benefits for their respective fellow for two years.

The fellowship program is designed to develop professionals to work in the domestic violence prevention and services field. Additional goals of the program are to foster collaboration between domestic violence programs and other services; collect information to inform policy and funding; and enhance the capacity of local programs to better meet their community’s needs.

“This fellowship represents a meaningful investment in the future of domestic violence prevention programs,” Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence Executive Director Gwen Wright said. “The young professionals selected for this distinction are enthusiastic about this field and will greatly benefit from the real-world experience working with domestic violence and sexual assault survivors.”

Now in its third year, the Forem Fellowship program is named in memory of an Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence employee who was killed in a vehicle crash on her way home from work in 2001. Today’s grant announcement coincides with New York State’s recognition of National Crime Victims’ Rights Week (April 2 through April 8). In addition, April is annually marked as Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month; sexual assault can be common in abusive intimate partner relationships.

The Family Justice Center of Erie County and YWCA of the Niagara Frontier will each receive up to $75,000 for two years and will develop a work plan that will provide their respective fellows with a broad range of experience. Both fellows are expected to be hired in July and will attend an OPDV training before starting their jobs with the community-based organizations.

Family Justice Center Executive Director Mary Murphy said, “This incredible opportunity to expand our services comes at the perfect time. Members from the community approached us late last year requesting our presence on Grand Island. With the fellowship grant, we can establish the satellite location much quicker and more efficiently, which sets the stage for us to secure sustainable funding. We could not be more grateful for this support.”

YWCA of the Niagara Frontier Chief Executive Officer Kathleen Granchelli said, “This grant will help the YWCA’s 35-year-old Alternatives to Domestic Violence Program develop new paradigms to serve survivors. The fellow funded by this grant will help us research and integrate a survivor centered approach in all victim services.  In terms of developing new models for domestic violence services, this is a game changer for us.”

The YWCA of Genesee County and North Brooklyn Coalition Against Family Violence received the first fellowship grants in 2015 and Lifespan of Greater Rochester in Monroe County and the New York City-based Sanctuary for Families received them last year.

The fellowship program already has assisted community-based domestic violence programs in meeting their mission. For example, the YWCA of Genesee County fellow established a trauma-informed support group for domestic violence victims and started a mentor program to assist support group participants, while the North Brooklyn Coalition fellow used evidence-based intervention methods to create a series of short training for community-based organizations on a variety of domestic violence topics.

During Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s tenure, New York has expanded its commitment to protecting victims and survivors of domestic violence and providing police and prosecutors with more effective tools to hold offenders accountable. The state has enacted legislation that increases the penalties for domestic violence offenders, require courts to consider certain risk factors when determining bail for an offender charged with an offense against a family or household member, and addresses the non-criminal needs of domestic violence victims, among other measures.

The Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence also is administering $400,000 over two years to Safe Homes of Orange County and Unity House of Troy in Rensselaer County to reduce intimate partner homicides in their communities. Those service providers are partnering with law enforcement to use an evidence-based assessment tool to identify intimate partner abuse cases deemed to be at high risk for lethal violence at the earliest point possible.

The New York State Domestic & Sexual Violence Hotline (1-800-942-6906) offers help and information 24 hours a day, in English, Spanish and other languages. Individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing can call 711. The state also supports and funds community-based programs to assist victims of domestic and sexual violence and other crimes, including these Domestic Violence Resources, the Crime Victim Assistance Program and Sexual Assault and Violence Response Resources for SUNY Students.

The Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence ( has three primary areas of focus: to advise the Governor and Legislature on policies and practices for the state; to train professionals from all disciplines across the state about the intersection of domestic violence in their daily practice; and to serve as a resource regarding the issue of domestic violence by disseminating regular public awareness campaigns, publishing materials for use by non-profits and victims and highlighting best practices. Find the agency on Facebook: and Twitter and Instagram: @nysopdv.