Get Safe, Stay Safe and Thrive
Kim Cardenas was a Casualty Processor at Allstate Insurance Company. She had joined Allstate because she wanted to work for a good company, and had been there almost three years. But Kim was also a victim of domestic violence and financial abuse. “I was ashamed and I felt embarrassed because my marriage wasn’t working. Financially, we were devastated. I was being kept out of the financial decisions that affected the overall picture of our lives.”
Kim was one of the tens of thousands of women impacted by domestic violence, a national crisis that poses a threat to the safety and security of victims and their families in America every year. Every hour, 150 women are assaulted by a partner. On average, 3 women die each day due to domestic violence, and 1 in 4 women report being abused during their lifetime. In most cases, a lack of financial knowledge and resources are the main reasons why victims cannot break free and stay free from abuse.
Responding to the urgency of this issue, The Allstate Foundation partnered with the National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV) in 2005 to bring financial education and empowerment strategies to help survivors break the cycle of violence to get safe, stay safe and thrive.
The Allstate Foundation focuses on the broader issue of financial empowerment, rather than “cuts and bruises” to help women break the cycle of violence.
“We are committed to using financial empowerment strategies to end the cycle of violence because research shows that financial dependency is the strongest predictor of a survivor's decision to remain, leave or return to an abusive relationship - even stronger than physical safety issues,” said Sue Duchak, Senior Manager of The Allstate Foundation Social Impact Programs.
With this strategic focus, the Foundation launched the Moving Ahead through Financial Management curriculum with NNEDV, one of the only national curricula providing financial knowledge and resources to domestic violence survivors. Through this curriculum, NNEDV trained advocates to teach principles of financial empowerment to survivors, such as creating a financial plan, opening a bank account, fixing credit issues, starting a matched savings program and finding better jobs.
In 2010, The Foundation broadened its Domestic Violence Program to create the Allstate Against Abuse Team, a growing cadre of 200 agency owners, personal financial representatives and employees committed to ending domestic violence. By using their professional financial planning expertise, this team helps survivors achieve their financial goals and create a path to a safe future.
What’s the Foundation’s secret to engaging the Allstate Against Abuse Team? It has involved trusted Allstate business leaders in the recruitment process, and has provided a variety of involvement levels to ensure participation for professionals with varying degrees of capacity and time. Being part of the Allstate Against Abuse Team can mean anything from sharing messages about the Domestic Violence Program with their networks and giving presentations in front of community groups, to participating in public awareness campaigns and volunteering at domestic violence shelters.
Above and beyond empowering survivors, The Allstate Foundation is moving the needle on the issue of domestic violence by improving public understanding of a widely misunderstood issue, especially the need for financial empowerment to break the cycle of violence. Through public awareness campaigns like PurplePurse.com, which provides life-saving information via a site that looks like an engaging online fashion magazine, and Tell a Gal Pal, it is encouraging people to talk openly about domestic violence as a first step to showing victims that there is a way out. Tell a Gal Pal has gained support by inspiring gal pals such as Academy Award winner Mira Sorvino, Ugly Betty's Ana Ortiz and Cheryl Burke of Dancing with the Stars, herself a survivor.
“If I hadn’t found The Allstate Foundation Gal Pal information on my desktop, I wouldn’t have known what to do. I learned what was out there. I learned how to get help,” said Cardenas. “I made myself a 5-year plan to fix the IRS taxes, to go to school. I was able to find a house that’s got a place where I can plant my roses. You know they say, ‘Nobody ever promised you a rose garden’? Well, I promised myself a rose garden,” she said.
Since 2005, The Allstate Foundation has invested $30 million to bring financial empowerment services to domestic violence survivors in communities throughout the nation. Over the last seven years, it has helped more than 100,000 women take steps toward financial independence. The Allstate Against Abuse Team is growing each year, and the Foundation plans to double the number of team members who will travel to Washington, D.C. to educate members of Congress about financial empowerment for domestic violence survivors.
The Allstate Foundation has set a goal to reach 500,000 survivors with financial empowerment services by 2015.
A Billion + Change thanks Allstate Insurance Company for joining the campaign and for committing to expand its skills-based efforts to help end the cycle of violence for women across the country!