Since 1906, women’s empowerment has been at the heart of the YWCA of Asheville’s work. The organization’s original charter in 1897 was to provide safe housing for working women. Today, the YW combines a programmatic history of women’s empowerment, a century of advocacy with and for women, and a passion for justice and equality into programs that change women’s lives and the lives of their families.
The YWCA Board of Directors pays great attention to power-building in historically disenfranchised groups of women as well as the generational transfer of leadership. We intentionally build the power of low-income women by hiring women who have been enrolled in our programs, and offering deeply discounted on-site child care and after school care. Specifically, to build up the power of low-income women, the YW has intentionally not incorporated a financial means needs test to access service. Instead, the YW has developed program entry avenues for low-income women that assure dignity and full participation. Many of our programs have advisory councils that intentionally seek out program participants so that they may have direct input into program decisions. Maintaining an environment that includes people from all walks of life creates challenges and risks, and we continually assess whether our programs successfully align with our mission.