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      Project Phoenix aims to provide entrepreneurship skills to victims of abuse

      A new economic initiative is aimed at helping victims of domestic abuse; Project Phoenix is helping empower women in entrepreneurship.

      Several local programs have joined forces, with the goal of giving victims the tools they need to start anew.

      The Vera House , Women Igniting the Spirit of Entrepreneurship and the South Side Innovation Center are all teaming up.

      Randi Bregman, director of Vera House, is hoping this will help some of the Central New Yorkers they work with. Domestic violence victims are often left in a difficult financial situation and their life opportunities minimized.

      "Many times one of the greatest last challenges for those we work with is how to create true economic independence, to follow their dreams, to have a vision that can become a reality, and this partnership is such a wonderful way to begin that process," said Bregman.

      The Project Phoenix program was made possible through $100,00 in grants from Verizon. This is one of five grants awarded across the state to workforce development organizations and domestic violence agencies.

      "Verizon has created this opportunity that connects domestic violence programs and self-employment development programs," said Joanne Lenweaver, director of the WISE Women??s Business Center. "Many DV survivors have all the skills and ambition needed to become entrepreneurs and take advantage of that level of freedom and security."

      The entrepreneurial side of the program is set to focus on opportunity recognition, exploration, and education.

      At the end of the training, program participants will be eligible to apply for a Verizon Domestic Violence Entrepreneurship Grant up to $5,000 to receive start-up funding.