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COLLECTION Identifier: 2011-M235

Additional records of Wider Opportunities for Women, Inc., 1979-2011


Additional records documenting local and national programs of Wider Opportunities for Women, Inc., which worked to expand employment opportunities for women through information, employment training, and advocacy.


  • Creation: 1979-2011

Language of Materials

Materials in English.

Access Restrictions:

Access. Unrestricted.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright. Copyright in the records created by Wider Opportunities for Women, Inc., is held by the President and Fellows of Harvard College for the Schlesinger Library except that as long as WOW exists, researchers wishing to publish extensive quotations from the records must obtain the prior written permission of the executive director of WOW; brief quotations (fewer than 250 words in any one publication) may be made with the permission of the Director of the Schlesinger Library. Copyright in other papers in the collection may be held by their authors, or the authors' heirs or assigns.

Copying. Papers may be copied in accordance with the library's usual procedures.


11 linear feet ((11 cartons), 1 archived web site)

These addenda include printed material, reports, meeting notes, curricula, conference material, etc., documenting the work of Wider Opportunities for Women locally and nationally. They have been neither sorted nor rearranged. They are boxed and listed in the order in which they were received from the WOW office.


Wider Opportunities for Women (WOW) is a non-governmental, non-profit women's organization based in the District of Columbia. Founded in 1964, WOW was initially known as the Washington Opportunities for Women, Inc. Under the leadership of Cindy Marano, who served as executive director from 1976 to 1997, WOW's primary focus was to provide employment training programs and childcare for low income women in the District of Columbia. In 1987, WOW merged with the National Commission on Working Women, an advisory board of influential experts that included corporate executives, public policy makers, educators, and members of the media and organized labor. Aided by the commission, WOW explored non-traditional occupations (NTOs) in construction, transportation, welding, firefighting services, telecommunications, and manufacturing as a viable means of helping women overcome poverty. One of WOW's earliest nontraditional training programs was the Building and Maintenance Program initiated in 1989 and funded by the Job Training Partnership Act (JTPA).

In 1990, after determining that JTPA programs did little to help women move beyond minimum wage jobs, WOW developed the Nontraditional Employment Training (NET) Project. Financial support from the Ford Foundation, the United States Department of Labor's Women's Bureau, and the Irvine Foundation, enabled WOW to achieve the stated goals of JTPA programs, namely to improve opportunities for employment, increase wage earnings, and elevate educational and occupational skills, in order to lessen welfare dependency. The NET Project provided technical assistance at select demonstration sites in Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Montana; Hartford, Connecticut; and Tulare County and Sacramento in California.

The success of the NET Project elevated WOW's stature, enabling it to play a leading role in the development and passage of the Nontraditional Employment for Women (NEW) Act, which amended JTPA in December 1991. NEW Act, which became effective in July 1992, further broadened the effectiveness of JTPA for federal, state and local governments. The resulting four-year demonstration project, providing $1.5 million a year to institutionalize training for non-traditional occupations, placed greater emphasis on planning, setting goals, and reporting job placement and retention results. The requirements also included the formation of statewide nontraditional leadership teams. Initial grants for statewide projects were made in January 1993 to the District of Columbia, Louisiana, Maryland, Texas, Washington, and Wyoming. In addition to statewide training, WOW provided workshops for federal officials and members of Congress on the implementation of the NEW Act.

Although the JTPA and NEW Act were repealed when the Workforce Investment Act was enacted in 1998, NET and NEW Act projects paved the way for other federally-funded projects for which WOW provided recruitment and technical assistance: e.g., the Women's Pipeline Project recruited women for training in highway construction, and the Women in Apprentice and Nontraditional Occupations (WANTO) project was established for women seeking entry-level employment. The WANTO project also included the use of web sites to provide greater access to NTOs, and training manuals to help educate unions and employers about sexual harassment.

WOW was also highly successful in acquiring funding for a number of collaborative projects. The Women's Workplace Literacy Project, initiated in 1988, helped low-income, single mothers at four demonstration sites: WOW, Nontraditional Employment for Women in New York, the Midwest Women's Center, and the Mary Crowley Academy. Subsequent funding enabled WOW to form the Intergenerational Literacy Action Research Project (ILAR) and related programs, which emphasized functional context education, and assisted in the development and dissemination of instructional materials to approximately 500 programs across the nation. Customized workshops were also developed for program coordinators, guidance counselors, teachers, and employers involved in training young girls in vocational equity and school-to-work transition programs. In 1990, their efforts attracted the attention of former First Lady Barbara Bush, who visited their training offices.

From the mid-1990s, WOW served as lead organizer of the State Organizing Project for Family Self-Sufficiency, funded by the Ford and Annie E. Casey Foundations. The Project's primary goal was to identify the causes of poverty and provide tangible ways to achieve economic self-sufficiency. In partnership with the Corporation for Enterprise Development, the Ms. Foundation for Women, and the National Economic Development and Law Center, WOW helped established nationwide living standards for families, implemented workforce development projects, and addressed a number of issues associated with welfare reform.

A recognized leader in the field of employment, and particularly NTO (non-traditional occupations) training, in 2011 WOW continues to advocate for women as reflected in their influential reports, instructional videos, and web site (http:

Physical Location

Collection stored off site: researchers must request access 36 hours before use.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Accession number: 2011-M235

These addenda to the records of Wider Opportunities for Women, Inc. were given to the Schlesinger Library by Wider Opportunities for Women in 2011.

Related Material:

There is related material at the Schlesinger Library; see Wider Opportunities for Women Records, 1965-1987 (90-M59--90-M71); Wider Opportunities for Women Additional records, 1966-2003 (MC 672); and Papers of Joan Kuriansky, 1978-2017 (2017-M186).

Processing Information

Processed: January 2012

By: Wider Opportunities for Women staff members

Wider Opportunities for Women, Inc.. Additional records of Wider Opportunities for Women, Inc., 1979-2011: A Container List
Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America
Language of description

Repository Details

Part of the Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute Repository

The preeminent research library on the history of women in the United States, the Schlesinger Library documents women's lives from the past and present for the future. In addition to its traditional strengths in the history of feminisms, women’s health, and women’s activism, the Schlesinger collections document the intersectional workings of race and ethnicity, gender, sexuality, and class in American history.

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