Empowering Women: Women’s History and the YWCA
For 110 years our programs have been designed to support working women—from housing, training for work, providing affordable child care, and teaching life skills—the YWCA has been bridging gaps in earning power and economic security for women.
1907 — The first location of the YWCA of Asheville opens as a “Boarding House for Self-supporting Women.”
1913 — A group of African American women, called the Employment Club begin meeting to find jobs and provide support for working black women.
1918 — In commitment to the development of young women, a local chapter of the international YWCA Girl Reserves forms to instill the principles of responsibility, community and world service to teen girls.
1921 — The first official Phyllis Wheatley branch of the YWCA formally opens to offer housing and employment resources for African American working women.
1930s — Groups form for professional women at the YWCA. The Phyllis Wheatley branch had the Business and Professional Women’s Club and at the Central YWCA, a club was formed for young employed women, and the Business Girls’ League served older women.
1940s — YWCA Young Wives Club begin offering group childcare during its meetings as the importance of childcare to women’s economic sustainablity becomes more evident.
1970 — To address the fact that pregnant teenagers were being forced to leave school, the YWCA starts the Continuing Education Program for teen mothers. In five years policies change and this program is absorbed by Asheville City Schools.
1973 — YWCA nursery services expand to women in the wider community by opening the Drop-in Childcare center.
1985 — High drop-out rates for pregnant and parenting teens motivate the YWCA to create the MotherLove program to support teen moms and encourage graduation and further education.
1987 — In collaboration with the Buncombe County Women’s Commission, the YWCA Women’s Center opens. The center offers a job club, resource library, workshops, and referrals.
1991 — YWCA holds the first TWIN event – Tribute to Women of Industry/Influence to honor women who have made a significant contribution to business, organizations and industry in managerial and professional roles.
1999 — Launch of NEWS/New Choices program, which provides case-management, access to child care, group support, and job-skills building, to serve women living below the poverty level who want to achieve economic self-sufficiency.
2014 — The Getting Ahead program begins to empower women of all ages and backgrounds living in poverty to take control of their financial future, improve the lives of their families and better our community.
2016 — YWCA Empowerment Child Care (formerly Drop-In) expands access to child care for student parents through a new childcare partnership with AB Tech.
In 2007, ten historical panels were created to give an overview of the YWCA’s 100+ years of social justice work in this community. Visit our website to learn more about our YWCA of Asheville history