New Opportunity School for WomenNew Opportunity School for Women

New Opportunity School for Women

View the NOSW Rack Card

Download NOSW Application

Click the links below to learn more about the New Opportunity School for Women

1. Upcoming Events 2. Mission and Goals  3. About NOSW 4. Recent Photos
5. Helpful Links 6. Residential Program 7. Director 8. Contact

Upcoming Events

NOSW Winter Open House

Wednesday, December 2 from 2-6 p.m.
Stephenson Center for Appalachia

You are cordially invited to a Winter Open House in honor of all community partnerships and support. Kindly RSVP no later than Monday, November 30 to Jennie Harpold, director of the NOSW at Lees-McRae College, at 828.898.8905 or

2016 Three-week Summer Session

May 29 – June 18


The mission of the New Opportunity School for Women at Lees-McRae College is to improve the educational, financial, and personal circumstances of low-income women -- usually between the ages of 30-55 -- who live in or hail from the Southern Appalachian region. The curriculum is designed to foster skills that will help them approach life and work from diverse perspectives.


  1. Expand participants’ knowledge base of Appalachia culture and current issues.
  2. Provide participants’ access to the resources, information and contacts to support personal and professional decisions.
  3. Engage participants’ in activities, counseling, classes and internships that provide them with the viable tools to improve their overall self-esteem, decision making processes, financial literacy, personal wellness and career options.

To learn more about the New Opportunity School for Women in Berea KY, visit

To donate, please contact Jennie Harpold, director of NOSW, at 828.898.8905 or

Back to Top

About Us

In 2005, Lees-McRae College in Banner Elk, NC became home to the second New Opportunity School for Women.  Originally founded in 1987 by Lees-McRae College alumna Jane Baucom Stephenson (‘57) in Berea, KY, this organization seeks to, “improve the educational, financial, and personal circumstances of low-income women,” in the Appalachian region.

We are seeking up to 14 low-income women to participate in the New Opportunity School for Women at Lees-McRae College during the three-week residential program each July. There is no cost to the participant.  During the program, the women explore career options, educational goals, and leadership development as well as a self-esteem boosting curriculum.  Weekday mornings and some evenings are spent in workshops -- topics include computer training, job search skills, leadership development, Appalachian Literature, basic math, and creative writing, among several others -- while afternoons are spent at a job internship of interest to the participant.  During evenings and weekends, participants continue classes and workshops as well as field trips to museum and attendance at cultural events in our area.  The curriculum of the NOSW also includes a workshop on how to go back to school, receive financial aid, and take the SAT or ACT. Graduates of the New Opportunity School for Women find the experience life-altering.  According to the New Opportunity School for Women in Berea, KY, “In the past 18 years, over 450 women have completed the School’s three-week residential program.  A recent survey of graduates showed that 76% are now employed, enrolled in further education, or both. 

Graduates of the NOSW are now employed in areas such as social work, counseling, education, public relations, business, and healthcare vocations such as nursing and respiratory therapy.”  In fact, the program has been so successful that it was featured on the Oprah Winfrey Show as part of Oprah’s Angel Network.

Any woman who has a GED or high school diploma, who is of low income, and who lives in or hails from the Southern Appalachian region is eligible to attend the New Opportunity School for Women.  Most participants are between the ages of 30 and 55 and are motivated and eager to learn.

Back to Top

Recent Photos | Summer 2015

Click here to view the NOSW Smilebox photo slideshow


Back to Top

Helpful Links

Scholarship Fund Application Form North Carolina Independent Colleges & Universities
North Carolina Community College System Financial Aid Resources College Foundation of North Carolina
NC Works Career Centers North Carolina Association of Free Clinics
Find a Local NC Workforce Office Near You Dental Fund Guidelines
Back to Top

Residential Program

Please email, call 828.898.8905, or download the application

Back to Top

Meet the Director

Jennie Harpold began working as Director of New Opportunity School for Women in August 2013. Prior to assuming that position she worked with NOSW for five years as instructor and career coach. She brings more than twenty years of workforce and career and technology education expertise to the program. Her experience in working with Workforce Development, directing educational programs for community colleges in multiple states and her non-profit management skills will serve her well in her new position. She is a graduate of the College of William and Mary with a degree in Social Psychology.

Back to Top

Contact Us

Mail: New Opportunity School for Women
Lees-McRae College
PO Box 128
Banner Elk NC 28604
Phone: 828.898.8905
Fax: 828.898.3524

Back to Top