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Kemper and Ethel Marley Foundation

December 8, 2015

Sojourner Center Receives $1 Million Grant in Support of Groundbreaking Domestic Violence and Traumatic Brain Injury Program

Sojourner BRAIN Program to develop innovative screening, deliver treatment and share best practices


PHOENIX – Sojourner Center, one of the largest and longest-running domestic violence shelters in the United States, has received a $1 Million donation from the Kemper and Ethel Marley Foundation in support of the Center’s new Sojourner BRAIN Program, the first world-class program dedicated to the analysis and treatment of traumatic brain injury (TBI) in women and children living with domestic violence, a largely unrecognized public health issue.

As part of its initial roll out, the Sojourner BRAIN Program will conduct a study of women and children in residence to assess the incidence of TBI in this population. Sojourner Center and its partners will then use the study results to offer screening to all participants for TBI during intake and treat those with a TBI at the shelter’s main campus. Sojourner Center is now the first domestic violence shelter to systematically screen its participants for TBI with domestic violence-specific tools.

“Support from the Kemper and Ethel Marley Foundation will significantly impact our ability to serve those who experience TBI symptoms due to domestic violence and will also lay the groundwork for treatment platforms that could be replicated at other domestic violence shelters as well as assessment and treatment protocols designed for abusers,” said Robb Knechtel, J.D., M.D., Sojourner Center Chief Operating Officer, Interim Director of BRAIN Program.

“There are few empirical studies on the prevalence of TBI among women and children affected by domestic violence. But evidence so far strongly indicates a silent epidemic, with major public health ramifications,” said Maria Garay-Serratos, M.S.W., Ph.D., Sojourner Center Chief Executive Officer. “We are grateful for the Kemper and Ethel Marley Foundation’s commitment to this urgent issue and continued investment in our community.”

Based on initial studies of domestic violence and TBI, there are potentially as many as 20 million women suffering from symptoms of TBI each year— a number 12 times greater than any published incidence of TBI in the general population. Thus, much like professional football players and U.S. combat troops, women and children impacted by domestic violence are far more likely than the general public to have sustained a TBI.

In addition to creating a meaningful database and assessing and treating TBI at Sojourner Center, the Sojourner BRAIN Program will inform and share standards of care, procedures, protocols and clinical practices with other domestic violence and social service providers, neurologists, psychiatrists, psychologists, physicians, pediatricians and other professionals. Clinical internships and residency opportunities will further extend the impact of the collaborative beyond the walls of Sojourner Center.

About Sojourner Center
Sojourner Center, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, is one of the largest, longest running domestic violence shelters in the United States. Sojourner Center’s mission is to provide a continuum of multicultural services to individuals and families impacted by domestic violence in Arizona, while collaborating with the global community on education, research, and advocacy to end domestic violence. Sojourner Center serves nearly 9,000 women and children a year through its shelter, transitional housing and community outreach programs, child development center, healthcare clinic, and lay legal advocacy programs. Through its services to victims and survivors, education and prevention efforts aimed at youth and the community, advocacy, research and leadership, Sojourner Center leads the way to a world free from domestic violence. www.sojournercenter.org

About The Kemper and Ethel Marley Foundation
One of the largest private foundations in Arizona, The Kemper and Ethel Marley Foundation has been a longtime supporter of Sojourner Center.  Created in 1990 by Kemper and Ethel Marley, the Foundation has given to many Arizona charities for arts & culture; civic and community enhancement; education; health and human services; medical facilities and research-science and cancer.