- Associated Press - Tuesday, July 28, 2015

July 28—The second cohort of the New Opportunity School for Women will complete the program with a graduation ceremony Saturday.

The 21-day residential program at Maryville College gives low-income women living in Appalachia the skills they need to improve their lives educationally, financially and personally.

Graduation is noon to 2:30 p.m. Saturday at the Chilhowee Club, 223 Clarion Ave, Maryville, and will celebrate the graduates’ accomplishments as well as community support for the program. The Women’s Fund of East Tennessee provided funds for the program along with private donations and a grant from the Presbyterian Women in Presbyterian Church.

The six 2015 graduates are from five area counties: Blount, Campbell, Claiborne, Cocke, Knox and Monroe. Each graduate, ages 30 to 55, will give a short presentation about their experiences during the ceremony.

During the program, women learn ways to advance their education, gain long-term employment and build self-esteem through classes, internships and career counseling. They also received health screenings and clothing resources as a way to help build confidence.

Participants attend for free and live on the college’s campus throughout the program with transportation and meals included. Other funds also helped with childcare.

The first New Opportunity School for Women at Maryville College was in July 2014 with 10 graduates.

The program first started in 1987 at Berea College in Kentucky as a way to help women in Appalachia. It has since expanded to Lees-McRae College in North Carolina, Bluefield College in Virginia as well as Maryville College.

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(c)2015 the Knoxville News-Sentinel (Knoxville, Tenn.)

Visit the Knoxville News-Sentinel (Knoxville, Tenn.) at www.knoxnews.com

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