The New Opportunity School for Women (NOSW) is designed to improve the educational, financial and personal circumstances of low-income, under-educated women between 30 and 55 years of age living in the Appalachian region.
The New Opportunity School for Women was founded in 1987 by Jane B. Stephenson at Berea College in Kentucky out of an urgent need to help women in Appalachia become better educated and employed. The program helps determined women to improve their lives and shape a fulfilling and successful future. Building on its success, and the need to help low-income women in Appalachia, three additional programs were established: Lees-McRae College, NC; Bluefield College, VA; and Maryville College.
After 27 years of offering the program, over 770 women have graduated and 73% of NOSW graduates are sustainably employed, enrolled in further education, or both.
Women who attend the New Opportunity School for Women will spend three weeks in residence at Maryville College. Through testing and individual counseling, participants explore career opportunities and educational interests. Classes are taught by Maryville College faculty and professionals from the community.
Exploring career opportunities begins with an interest inventory followed by career development classes which include basic computer skills, resume writing, interview skills, job search techniques, public speaking, and internships with local businesses.
The New Opportunity School for Women prepares women for further education by providing academic skills, knowledge of processes, and a spirit of confidence based on achievement necessary to succeed. The curriculum includes Appalachian literature, creative writing, basic finance and math classes along with classes in leadership development and self-esteem.
Cultural opportunities are provided on weekends through learning new art forms, exploring museums, music programs, and the theatre. Weekend field trips that explore the rich history and beauty of East Tennessee are also part of the program.
Through an intensive curriculum, hard work, community internships and career counseling, participants tap into new knowledge and skills while realizing value of their own wisdom, experiences and abilities. In three weeks, women begin to rediscover personal strengths, courage and life goals that have often been hidden by overwhelmingly difficult circumstances. The NOSW program is a life-changing event.
There is no cost to attend the New Opportunity School for Women. Lodging and meals are provided. Grants for travel to campus and childcare are available; however, childcare cannot be provided on campus during the three-week program.
Participants remain on campus for the entire three week program.