Helping single mothers advance their career
while helping young children learn

The cost of childcare in our service area is often more than $1,000 per month, per child. This massive expense can make it nearly impossible for single parents to maintain financial stability while furthering their education in pursuit of a reliable living-wage career.

In response to this need, United Way of Greater Richmond & Petersburg launched WomenRise, a scholarship program that provides financial assistance to help single moms cover the cost of childcare while they work toward a post-secondary degree or credential.

WomenRise Annual High Tea Fundraiser

Each year, we hold our WomenRise High Tea Luncheon to celebrate our remarkable WomenRise participants and empower the next generation. Join us for this uplifting event on April 24 at the Tuckahoe Woman’s Club, featuring Kelli Lemon as MC and Joye B. Moore as our keynote speaker. Even if you can’t attend our upcoming WomenRise fundraiser, YOU can still be a part of the action! Check out the 58 amazing auction items that are live for bidding now! The auction is open now through April 24 at 1:15 p.m., so don’t miss out on the opportunity to empower local women!

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The WomenRise application will be open from May 1 – May 31, 2024. Please check back soon for more information. If you would like to learn more about WomenRise or the application process, please contact Steph Doan at doans@yourunitedway.org.

Single mothers experience poverty at a higher rate than any other family structure, both here in the Greater Richmond and Petersburg region and across the country. In our service area, the poverty rate for single mother families is 29.7%, compared to 12.2% for single father families and 3.7% for married couple families*.

Education is one of the most effective pathways for a single mother to work her way out of poverty and provide more opportunities for herself and her family. However, the exorbitant cost of childcare can make it impossible for a working single mother to cover her family’s basic needs and pursue a post-secondary degree or credential.  

That’s where WomenRise comes in. A WomenRise scholarship fills a clear need in a single mother’s life by relieving the burden of childcare costs and empowering women to attain the education needed to provide more opportunities for their families.  

*If individuals are married but not living together, they are counted in either male or female householder families. Percentages do not indicate margin of error, which ranges from +/-0/5% to +/-7.3% based on population group.

WomenRise scholarships are available on an annual basis to local single mothers with an application process every summer. 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.    

A WomenRise scholarship includes access to our Women United giving community members for support and encouragement as well as a set of partners and resources within the United Way network.    

  • 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 child care provider 

To review answers to frequently asked questions, click here. If you have any questions about the process, email Heather Farber (farberh@yourunitedway.org).


raised for 2023 WomenRise scholarships

2023 WomenRise Scholarship Recipients

In 2023, we were able to provide 19 scholarships. Here are a few of their stories listed below.

Since she was young, Michelle has wanted to be a lawyer to help people through tough situations. With a mom who immigrated to the US from Costa Rica, she’s particularly passionate about immigration law and wants to support families with that process. Helping others is very important to Michelle – she even started a nonprofit for families going through pregnancy loss after having her own experience losing her son. This past year she was even nominated for an RVA Women of Power Award for her nonprofit work. Michelle is a second-year WomenRise recipient studying sociology at Virginia State University before moving into pre-law. Her son’s care is covered, allowing her to focus on her studies and take one step closer to her dream of becoming a lawyer.

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Briana is a deaf single mother of two young children, one of which has a hearing disability. Since day one of motherhood, she has been a strong advocate for both of her children, overcoming many barriers in the process. Briana – a second year participant, is studying education at Reynolds Community College while the WomenRise program covers care for both of her children. This past year she made the Honors Society with Phi Theta Kappa. Because of her experiences, she has a deep passion for making the educational system more deaf-friendly.

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Taryn became a mom in the midst of her academic career, which changed up her plans. She found the strength to move forward, complete her Bachelor’s degree, and is now working toward a better life for her and her infant child. Taryn is a second-year WomenRise participant pursuing a Criminal Justice Master’s degree to help others and follow her passion to improve the criminal justice system.

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Kara – a second year WomenRise participant – is determined to finish her degree in accounting and land a stable job. This past year she has been able to gain valuable accounting experience to complement her studies. She wants to show her three kids that anything is possible if you are persistent.

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Sheryl – a third year WomenRise recipient – has been working in the healthcare field since 11th grade. Recently, she has won Care Partner of the Year at VCU Health on her floor. As a mother of two young children, Harvey has been working to take the classes required to become a registered nurse at Reynolds Community College. She is halfway through her nursing journey and on track to graduate next year.

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LaCharle’ is a second-year WomenRise participant pursuing a career in nursing. She has taken care of people since the age of 14 and is currently an LPN (Licensed Professional Nurse). With three sons of her own, she spends every part of her day caring for others. WomenRise covers care for all of her boys, taking one challenge off of her plate so she can pursue her dream.

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E’moni is a third year WomenRise recipient. She currently works at a daycare facility in Richmond and is pursuing her bachelor’s degree in Elementary and Kindergarten Education at Virginia Commonwealth University, with plans to graduate this fall. Her WomenRise scholarship covers childcare for her four-year-old and infant daughters while she completes her education.


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Tyiesha  – a second year WomenRise student – is studying Criminal Justice at Reynolds Community College with aspirations of going to law school. She previously completed an internship with the Petersburg Police Department. She’s a member of the Richmond Paralegal Association and Phi Theta Kappa (PTK) International Honor Society. Tyiesha has accomplished all of this while caring for her young daughter.

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Quiara is a second-year WomenRIse participant studying Social Work at Virginia Union University. Because of her WomenRise support this past year, she was able to sustain a 4.1 GPA, become Vice President of the Social Work Club and hosted a drive to provide 50 hygiene kits to people experiencing homelessness. Throughout her studies, Quiara’s passion for supporting people who suffer with mental health disorders has grown and grown. She is laser focused on getting her degree and creating the best life she can for her and her children.

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Shelly has been a Personal Care Assistant for the past four years and is ready to advance her career in the healthcare profession – a job that she loves dearly. She has enrolled in a Licensed Practical Nurse program via St. Mary’s School of Nursing, which will provider her with an Associate’s Degree along with her nursing license. Shelly has three grown children and a 4-year-old, and she’s eager to create a more stable life for her whole family.

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Rachel works as a lab assistant at an urgent care clinic. Her passion for research has inspired her to pursue a degree in Clinical Lab Science at VCU, and she hopes to be able to perform and read lab test results. Rachel eventually plans to get her Master’s degree so that she can continue to progress in her field. Rachel has a two year old son and she is excited that WomenRise will give him the chance to engage with other children his age and to grow and learn in a childcare setting.

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Haja has overcome many obstacles to pursue her passions and care for her son, who she has raised alone since he was 4 months old. She experienced homelessness for a time, then was able to get a job as a CNA. However, she recently had to take time off from work for hand surgery. Even with all of these challenges, Haja is determined to pursue her education to become a Registered Nurse and eventually a Geriatric Nurse Practitioner. She has a passion to serve her community and loves to volunteer at the food bank and with seniors.

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Jasmine has overcome many challenges in her life to get to where she is today. From a young age she took her future into her own hands, taking extra classes at 16 so she could finish high school early and become a medical assistant. She has been a medical assistant for 13 years and in that time became a mother to five children – two of whom will be able to attend childcare thanks to WomenRise. Jasmine has outgrown her role as a medical assistant and is ready to pursue her dream of becoming a nurse – moving forward in her career and positioning herself to better provide for her family.

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Jas is a single parent of two special needs children who has been working to rebuild her life and her support system after experiencing domestic violence and losing her mother in 2021. She has always had an entrepreneurial spirit – even starting multiple small businesses over the past several years. Jasmine is pursuing a business degree at Virginia Union University and WomenRise is supporting her two sons’ care while she pursues her dream.

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Kristen is pursuing two associates degrees at Brightpoint Community College – nursing and health sciences. She is in her second year of WomenRise and has juggled school, work and care for her two children – all while getting accepted to the Honor Society in fall 2021. After experiencing several setbacks and having to put some classes on pause with health challenges this year, she is on track to complete her education in 2023.

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Brittany chose to pursue a career in social work because of her passion for helping others and her esperience entering into the foster care system at age 14. She was separated from her siblings and now cherishes living with her sister as adults to make up for lost time. She plans to become a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and then start a practice where she can provide mental health services to youth and adults. She has a 7-year-old son who will be able to attend before and after care thanks to WomenRise.

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Shoneece is studying to be a registered nurse – following in her mother’s footsteps who also started this career later in her life. As type 1 diabetic, Shoneece is passionate about diabetes education and that reinforces her desire to become a nurse. She has two children – ages two and eight – and she wants to do everything she can to make sure they have the best life possible.

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WomenRise is run by members of our United Way’s local Women United giving community. Women United members lead this program by fundraising for scholarships, making scholarship decisions, planning events and providing encouragement and support to WomenRise scholarship recipients.    

Powered by United Way of Greater Richmond & Petersburg, WomenRise makes post-secondary education and training attainable for dedicated single mothers in our area.  

Do you want to join our group of local women supporting WomenRise? Learn more about our Women United giving community or contact Heather Farber to join.

Help More Moms: Give Today

Your support determines the number of WomenRise scholarship recipients and the amount of each scholarship. Make a gift to United Way of Greater Richmond & Petersburg to help us grow this important new program.   

There is no gift too small! Every act of generosity makes a difference. Gifts of $1,000 or more will qualify for enrollment in our Women United giving community, which serves as the backbone group of planners and leaders for WomenRise.