New Opportunity School for Women at Lees-McRae College accepting applications; summer session scheduled for July 6-26

March 31, 2014

The New Opportunity School for Women (NOSW) at Lees-McRae College is accepting applications for its three-week residential summer program that helps low-income women gain the skills and confidence to turn their lives around. This summer’s session will be held from July 6-26.

“Our mission is to help women improve their personal, educational and financial circumstances,” said Jennie Harpold, director of the NOSW at Lees-McRae. “Women who would benefit from our program are those who really want to improve their situation, but need access to additional resources. We supply the tools they need to fulfill their potential.” 

Between the program at Lees-McRae College in Banner Elk, N.C., and the flagship program in Berea, Ky., the program has helped more 700 women achieve success personally and professionally.

“My life has totally changed since attending the New Opportunity School for Women,” said a recent graduate. “I have the opportunity to go back to college, and that’s something I thought would never happen…the program was perfect, the timing was perfect. The program made me realize that life is short and you have to do what you really want to do and you have to stand up for yourself and you also have to give back.”

During the three-week residential session, instruction is provided in many subjects including:  creative writing, public speaking, interviewing and Appalachian literature. Experienced volunteer instructors teach basic accounting, computer and resume writing skills as well as how to navigate the college application process. Women also work on furthering their personal growth. Internships in the local community provide the women with the opportunity to further explore career paths. Women participating in the program attend cultural events, such as concerts, a summer theatre production at Lees-McRae College and a series of  lectures related to local Appalachian culture. 

Thanks to generous help from individual donors, local churches and local agencies that support women’s initiatives, there is no cost to the students attending this program. In past years, NOSW has received funding from the High Country Women’s Fund and the Appalachian Women’s Fund, which recently merged to become Women’s Fund of the Blue Ridge, Inc. 

Applicants should be between the ages of 30-55, possess a high school diploma or GED and have no college degrees.

To apply for this life-changing program, contact Jennie Harpold at or 828-898-8905. Interested parties may download an application from or request one from the NOSW office.

Media Contact:

Nina Mastandrea  |  Content Manager
Tel: 828.898.8729  |  Email:
The New Opportunity School for Women at Lees-McRae College graduating class of 2013.