A publication of Appalachian Voices


A publication of Appalachian Voices


Bridging the Economic Divide

By Kimber Ray

Women aspiring to further their education and careers may find their path obstructed by a number of barriers, including domestic violence, biased gender expectations and low confidence. The programs listed here are a small sample of efforts to create more fair and sustainable communities by helping women move past these obstacles.

The Nest — Center for Women, Children and Families (Lexington, Ky.)

When the Lexington Child Abuse Council and the Women’s Center of Central Kentucky united in 1977, the result was The Nest, a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting healthy, stable families. The four main programs — offered free-of-charge — are temporary day care services, domestic violence counseling, parent education classes and crisis care support. These services assist parents confronted with hardship, including separation and job loss, the opportunity to recover. Visit: thenestlexington.org

HandMade in America’s Appalachian Women Entrepreneurs program (western N.C.)

In clay, wood, glass, metal and more, participants in the Appalachian Women Entrepreneurs program build their story — and make a living. The AWE program connects women craft artists to markets and resources, including professional and technical training workshops. Despite the often limited job opportunities available in rural western North Carolina, the women in AWE are creating small businesses that support sustainable economic solutions. Visit: handmadeinamerica.org/awe.html

Full Circles Foundation (Raleigh, N.C. & Lexington, Ky.)

Growing healthy connections between the self, neighbors and earth is the focus of this rising empowerment program for K-12 girls in the southeast. Since launching in 2011, the organization’s summer camps and workshops have encouraged girls to be strong community members by building social and technical skills. There is also a recently established “green apprenticeship” program in Raleigh. Visit: fullcirclesfoundation.org

Sew Fine! (Claiborne Co., Tenn.)

The Sew Fine! program, funded this spring by a grant from the East Tennessee Foundation Women’s Fund, is stitching together education and work skills development for low-income women. Religious nonprofit Servolution will assist women with completing high school diplomas, and offer classes in sewing, knitting and business skills. The first round of participants will be women in transitional housing provided by Mending Hearts. According to grant finalist listings from the women’s fund, Sew Fine! expects to employ all who complete the program. To learn more, contact Servolution at (276) 445-1067

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