New Opportunity School for Women

New Opportunity School for Women at Bluefield CollegeWomen from Appalachia who haven’t had access to higher education or whose circumstances have left them in poverty, shame, or some other financial or personal predicament now have hope for a new beginning.

Thanks to the creation of the New Opportunity School for Women at Bluefield College, these women have the opportunity to confront their circumstances, overcome their conditions, and pave the way for a better life.

Make a gift to support their journey!


How It All Began

The New Opportunity School for Women was founded by Jane B. Stephenson in 1987 at Berea College in Berea, Kentucky, out of an urgent need to help women in Appalachia become better educated and employed. The NOSW expanded to a second site at Lees-McCrae College in Banner Elk, North Carolina in 2005, and is now celebrating its growth into the Appalachian regions of Virginia and West Virginia through the establishment of a third location at Bluefield College in Bluefield, Virginia.


The New Opportunity School for Women (NOSW) is designed to improve the educational, financial, and personal circumstances of low-income, under-educated, middle-aged women in the Appalachian region.

Fulfillment of the Mission

Fourteen women will be chosen to come to the Bluefield College campus in Bluefield, Virginia, to participate in a life-changing three-week residential program. The program is held each year in May. At the end of the experience, graduates will go on to accomplish personal and professional goals they never thought possible.

Instruction in the Residential Program

Training will take place in the following areas:

  • Career development, including internships, resumé writing, interview skills, interest/personality inventories, computer basics, and leadership development.
  • Educational development, with a focus on Appalachian literature, women’s health issues, creative writing, journaling, public speaking, and professional mentoring.
  • Personal development, with tips on building self esteem, professional presentation, interview wardrobe, self-defense, and even a makeover.
  • Cultural development, including regional field trips, pot luck suppers, fun/recreation, theatre/arts activities.


There is no cost for attending the New Opportunity School for Women. Rooms and meals will be provided at no cost to the participants. Grants for travel and childcare are available; however, childcare cannot be provided on campus during the three-week school. Funding has been generously provided by friends of the New Opportunity School for Women.

Become a supporter today to help make it possible for even more women to enjoy the rewards of the New Opportunity School. During the giving process, be sure to select the "New Opportunity School for Women" category.

New Opportunity School Giving

Who Can Attend

Women who are eligible to participate in the residential program:

  • Are from the Appalachian region of Virginia or West Virginia.
  • Have completed high school, or have or are working on a GED, but do not have a college degree.
  • Are approximately between the ages of 30 and 55.
  • Have low income.
  • Demonstrate motivation and an eagerness to learn.
  • Are committed to remaining on campus for the entire three-week program, including weekends.

The Next Residential Program

The next three-week residential program for the New Opportunity School at Bluefield College will run from June 4-24.

For More Information

Contact Patricia Jacobs, Director of the New Opportunity School for Women, at by email or 229.326.7180 or 276.326.4257 by phone. Visit the NOSW Foundation website.

The Application Process

Applications for the NOSW residential program should be submitted by mid-March to ensure consideration. Finalists will be interviewed either in person or by telephone. Applicants will be expected to express what they hope to accomplish in their personal life through the experience of the New Opportunity School for Women. Those chosen to participate in the residential program will be notified by early April.

To attend the New Opportunity School for Women at Bluefield College, download the NOSW application or apply online. To request that an application be sent to you, please e-mail Completed forms may be mailed to:

Director of the New Opportunity School for Women
Bluefield College
3000 College Avenue
Bluefield, VA 24605