Newsroom Update

Free Childcare Scholarships for Moms: United Way Accepting Applications for WomenRise Program

The program plans to award 20 scholarships, up from six its first year

RICHMOND, Va. (April 25, 2023) – On Monday, May 1, United Way of Greater Richmond & Petersburg will begin the application period for its third annual WomenRise scholarship program, which empowers single mothers to work toward a post-secondary degree or credential without the burden of childcare expenses.

The scholarships help cover the cost of childcare while mothers pursue a range of degrees and certifications including elementary education, nursing and accounting.

Last year, 23 local single mothers received a total of $185,000 in WomenRise childcare scholarships, an approximate increase of 280% from year one, thanks to fundraising efforts.

Virginia is ranked 10th in the nation for the most expensive childcare with Child Care Aware of Virginia reporting an average cost of $14,577 per year. This equates to 47% of the state median income of a single parent.

“WomenRise exists to help overcome some of the obstacles, such as the cost of childcare, that prevent single mothers from reaching their educational and career goals,” said Sammie McCabe, Director of Major Gifts at United Way of Greater Richmond & Petersburg. “We look forward to meeting the 2023 class and seeing all they accomplish for themselves and their families.”

WomenRise scholarships are available on an annual basis to local single mothers with an application process every spring. The scholarships cover the cost of direct care services per child during the time the mother is enrolled in classes or a training program. Scholarships are paid directly to the childcare provider.

The program has helped mothers like Jasmine Phanelson, a 2022 WomenRise recipient and recent graduate. “I was able to accomplish my LPN (Licensed Practical Nurse) goal this past year because of my WomenRise scholarship,” said Jasmine “This award has allowed me to focus on my goals and cut back on the hours I was working.” Jasmine is continuing her studies to become a Registered Nurse that works with underserved communities.

This volunteer-led program is managed by members of United Way’s local Women United giving community. Women United members lead this program by fundraising, awarding scholarships, planning events and providing encouragement and support to WomenRise scholarship recipients.

To apply, applicants must:

  • Be a single female head of household with custody of at least one child  
  • Be enrolled or have plans to enroll in an education or career training program that is at least 40 hours and that results in a degree or credential  
  • Have an annual income of $60,000 or less  
  • Reside in the United Way of Greater Richmond & Petersburg region (Charles City, Chesterfield, Colonial Heights, Dinwiddie, Goochland, Hanover, Henrico, New Kent, Petersburg, Powhatan, Richmond) 
  • Use a licensed or voluntary registered childcare provider 

The application period runs through May 31. United Way will announce scholarship decisions this summer.

To learn more about the WomenRise program and to apply visit