(NewsUSA) - Many women who suffer from domestic violence feel powerless to remove themselves from abusive relationships because they are financially dependent on their abuser. This leads many to stay in an unhealthy or even dangerous environment.

Empire Beauty Schools, one of the nation's largest systems of cosmetology schools, has created an educational assistance program to help these women. The Empire Gives Back Endowment Program allots money for clients of domestic violence relief organizations across the country. The endowment will provide up to $3,000 towards attending any Empire Education Group beauty school. The goal of the fund is to help abuse victims afford a cosmetology education, which can mean a path to financial independence.

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the field of cosmetology is projected to grow 20 percent between 2008 and 2018. And aside from its healthy job outlook, cosmetology has proven to be an answer for mothers who need a flexible job schedule that will allow for their childcare needs.

"Domestic violence affects one out of every four women, and that includes our clients and even our Empire family," says Franklin K. Schoeneman, CEO and Chairman of Empire Education Group. "Thanks to our endowment program, students have come to us from many of the women's shelters we support around the country, and we have witnessed first-hand how the opportunity for a cosmetology career can change a life."

Empire is not the only organization to embrace the concept that cosmetology can be a solution for women who desperately need a lifeline. Beyoncé Knowles just opened the Beyoncé Cosmetology Center at Phoenix House, a drug and alcohol addiction-recovery center in New York. Knowles, whose mother once ran her own salon, said that she felt like the program needed something that was geared towards women.

Career assistance is only one way the salon industry helps in the fight against domestic violence. Hairstylists often share intimate client relationships, allowing them to notice signs of abuse that others may miss. Women usually see their hairdressers regularly, building trust over time, and sometimes feel more comfortable confiding in their hairdresser than family members or friends. Empire educates students on how to inform abused clients about where to get help.

"We've worked with the U.S. Department of Justice, the U.S. Attorney's Office and the Office on Violence Against Women to launch our Empire Gives Back awareness and fundraising program, and we are hopeful that our new endowment program will be a path to a new career and, hopefully, a new life for women in need," said Schoeneman.

To learn more, visit www.empiregivesback.com.

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