About NOSW

We serve low-income Appalachian women who are ready to build stable and fulfilling lives for themselves, their families, and their communities.

Appalachian women encounter overwhelming barriers to education, employment, and financial independence that prevent them from using their gifts and abilities to create a stable and rewarding life for themselves, their families, and their communities.

Since its founding in 1987 by Jane Stephenson, NOSW, Inc. has been working hand-in-hand with Appalachian women to remove these barriers, one woman at a time, through a unique educational program tailored specifically to meet their needs.

Once a year, NOSW, Inc. offers a FREE, two-week educational residency to Appalachian women. Starting in 2017, NOSW, Inc. began hosting non-residential, three-day programs at partner sites throughout the region.


The mission of the New Opportunity School for Women, Inc. is to improve the financial, educational, and personal circumstances of low-income women in the Appalachian region. 


Our residential program has been changing lives since 1987.



Jane Stephenson, wife of then Berea College President John Stephenson, founded the New Opportunity School for Women to work with Appalachian women to overcome barriers in their day to day lives.



Nine years after its founding, the New Opportunity School for Women became an independent, incorporated, nonprofit.


Expansion to Lees-McRae College

Realizing that the mission of the New Opportunity School for Women was beneficial to more than just the women of Kentucky, the first expansion school was opened in Banner Elk, North Carolina at Lees-McRae College.


Arson Fire/Rebuilding

In December of 2011 the house the New Opportunity School for Women was using as an office was robbed and set ablaze. But the staff, and supporters of the school’s mission, didn’t let that stop them. Instead it is looked at as the program rising from the ashes like a Phoenix, ready to start again.


Expansion to Bluefield College

After the success of the expansion to Lees-McRae, in 2005, the school opened its next expansion in Bluefield, Virginia at Bluefield College.


Non-Residential Programming

30 years after the school’s founding, the world and the women that we serve has changed. Alongside our Residential Program, the New Opportunity School for Women has started to host three-day non-residential programing alongside community partners throughout Appalachia.

Do you have any questions?

feel free to contact us!