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Women’s Independence Scholarship Program 23/24

The Women’s Independence Scholarship Program (WISP) is a remarkable initiative dedicated to providing financial support and educational opportunities to survivors of domestic violence and intimate partner abuse. Here’s a comprehensive overview of the Women’s Independence Scholarship Program:

women's independence scholarship program


Mission and Purpose

Empowering Survivors:

WISP’s primary mission is to empower survivors of domestic violence by offering them the means to attain higher education and regain control over their lives.

Breaking the Cycle:

The program recognizes that education is a key factor in breaking the cycle of abuse and ensuring financial independence for survivors and their families.

History and Founding

Foundation of Hope:

WISP was founded in 1999 by Susan Murphy, a survivor of domestic violence who understood the transformative power of education and financial independence.

Support for Survivors:

Inspired by her own journey, Murphy established WISP as a means of supporting other survivors in their pursuit of education and self-sufficiency.

Scholarship Offerings

Financial Aid:

WISP provides scholarships to survivors of domestic violence, helping them cover the costs of education, including tuition, fees, books, and other related expenses.

Higher Education Support:

The scholarships can be applied to various forms of higher education, including college degrees, vocational training, and certificate programs.

Eligibility and Application Process

Eligibility Criteria:

To qualify for WISP scholarships, applicants typically need to be survivors of domestic violence or intimate partner abuse. Eligibility requirements may vary.

Application Submission

Survivors can submit their scholarship applications online, detailing their educational goals and the impact of domestic violence on their lives.

Support Beyond Scholarships

Mentorship and Counseling:

WISP often offers additional support in the form of mentorship and counseling to help survivors navigate their educational journeys and overcome challenges.

Building a Supportive Community:

Beyond financial aid, WISP encourages a sense of community among scholarship recipients, providing a network of support for survivors.

Impact on Survivors

Empowerment and Independence:

The Women’s Independence Scholarship Program has a profound impact on survivors, giving them the opportunity to rebuild their lives, regain control, and achieve financial independence.

Breaking Barriers:

Scholarship recipients often break down barriers that domestic violence can create, such as financial dependency and limited educational opportunities.

Advocacy and Awareness

Raising Awareness:

WISP plays a vital role in raising awareness about the challenges faced by survivors of domestic violence and the importance of supporting their educational pursuits.

Advocating for Policy Changes:

The program advocates for policy changes that promote the rights and well-being of survivors, including access to education and financial stability.

Global Recognition

International Influence:

The Women’s Independence Scholarship Program serves as a model for similar initiatives around the world, demonstrating the impact of education in breaking the cycle of abuse.

Expanding Opportunities:

The success of WISP has spurred the development of similar programs that focus on education and empowerment for survivors of domestic violence.

Impact on Survivors

Educational Empowerment:

For survivors of domestic violence, education is not just a means to gain knowledge; it is a path to reclaiming their lives. WISP’s scholarships have transformed the lives of countless survivors by giving them access to education and career opportunities they might never have otherwise had.

Breaking the Cycle:

Survivors who access higher education through WISP often become role models for their families and communities, breaking the cycle of abuse and poverty. This ripple effect is instrumental in creating stronger, more resilient communities.

Economic Independence:

One of the key objectives of WISP is to equip survivors with the tools they need to achieve financial independence. This financial stability is essential for survivors to rebuild their lives and ensure a safer future for themselves and their children.

Community and Support

Network of Survivors:

Scholarship recipients often form a tight-knit community of survivors who share experiences, offer support, and inspire one another. This sense of belonging is invaluable in the healing process.

Mentorship and Counseling:

Beyond scholarships, WISP often provides mentorship and counseling services to help survivors navigate the challenges they may face during their educational journey. This holistic approach helps them overcome obstacles and achieve their goals.

Advocacy and Awareness

Survivor Advocacy:

WISP scholars become advocates for survivors’ rights and often share their stories to raise awareness about the issues of domestic violence. Their voices carry significant weight in influencing public opinion and policy changes.

Educational Access:

The program actively campaigns for educational access and financial support for survivors. WISP’s advocacy work extends to promoting safe learning environments for survivors and encouraging institutions to provide resources for those in need.

Expanding Opportunities

Global Inspiration:

The success of WISP has served as an inspiration for similar programs worldwide, recognizing the importance of education in helping survivors regain control of their lives.

Addressing Systemic Issues:

Beyond individual support, WISP contributes to a broader dialogue on addressing systemic issues related to domestic violence. By advocating for policy changes and societal awareness, it strives to create a safer and more supportive environment for survivors.

Collaborative Efforts

Partnerships with Organizations:

WISP often collaborates with other organizations, shelters, and advocacy groups working to support survivors. These partnerships strengthen the resources available to survivors and amplify the impact of their combined efforts.

The Story of How WISP Came About

As a young wife and mother living in Colorado, Doris became involved in early efforts to provide safety to women fleeing abusive situations through her friends, who started a local shelter. Years later, while attending a conference on domestic violence, having learned that economic barriers were the primary reasons a woman might stay in an abusive relationship – the idea for WISP was sparked.

WISP, Inc. is a private nonprofit agency founded by Doris Buffett and funded solely through her generosity. Our organization reflects the mid-western values and no-nonsense approach to decision-making that Doris grew up with in Omaha, Nebraska. Each scholarship is considered an investment, and the decision to grant funds is always based on an expected successful return. Doris Buffett is grateful to her father and brother not only for providing her with the wealth to fund the foundation but also for their inspirational examples of integrity and generosity.

Doris is passionate about her responsibilities as a philanthropist and good citizen; her energy and enthusiasm are boundless. Among her many other roles, she has been a first-grade teacher, domestic violence crusader, political activist, mother, and grandmother. She is the self-appointed Buffett family genealogist and her avocation is historic preservation.


The Women’s Independence Scholarship Program, Inc. began as a program of The Sunshine Lady Foundation (SLF) in 1999. The primary intent is to provide assistance to women who are survivors of intimate partner abuse with an education that leads to a living wage and financial self-sufficiency, interrupting the cycle of financial abuse within the larger context of economic justice. In December 2007, SLF Founder and President, Doris Buffett announced her intention to endow WISP as its own entity. On July 1, 2008, WISP, Inc. emerged as a stand-alone organization with a mission to enhance efforts toward economic justice by offering a means to help survivors of intimate partner abuse access higher education. WISP is available nationally to women who have left an abusive intimate partner relationship and who are pursuing an education with the goal of providing economic independence for themselves and their children.

In conclusion, the Women’s Independence Scholarship Program is not just about providing financial aid; it’s about restoring hope and independence to survivors of domestic violence. Through education and a supportive community, WISP empowers survivors to rebuild their lives and advocate for the rights of all who have experienced domestic violence. The program’s impact extends beyond individual scholarship recipients, resonating within communities and influencing broader societal change. WISP’s holistic approach, advocacy, and global inspiration serve as a testament to the resilience and strength of survivors and their capacity to create a safer, more equitable world for all.

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