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YWCA Lower Cape Fear

Who We Are

Local Mission Statement:

The YWCA Lower Cape Fear is dedicated to eliminating racism, empowering women and promoting peace, justice, freedom, and dignity for all.

The YWCA is the oldest and largest women's movement that provides services for women and their families. Our programs and services have furthered the YWCA vision of peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all people since 1914.  The YWCA celebrated 100 years of service in April 2014.  YWCA programs have evolved throughout the years and have included educational/ employment classes for women, teen clubs, community dialogue groups to discuss race relations, child care centers, a youth resource center and aquatics programming.  All services are organized under four pillars to meet our goals: racial justice, economic advancement, youth development and health and wellness.  We work to bring out the individual strengths of women and youth and to foster resiliency and self-sufficiency. Our philosophy, in keeping with the mission of the YWCA to empower women and families, centers on providing the skills and confidence needed to succeed.

What We Do

YWCA Programming

Racial Justice

“What’s Wrong With Different?”

“What's Wrong With Different?" is a racial justice program for K- 5th grades with a  focus on 3rd grade students in New Hanover County Schools. The program was developed by the YWCA Lower Cape Fear, in 2003, as a hands-on approach to teach students to value, appreciate and respect the differences between people, rather than to view a person who is different as inferior.  Our local association is proud to be one of only eight YWCAs in the country to have created a racial justice program selected by the YWCA USA Hallmark Initiative Committee.  Because "What's Wrong With Different?" is a Hallmark Program, the curriculum is available in the form of a toolkit to other YWCA associations across the country who would like to implement the programming in their area.


Stand Against Racism

The YWCA’s Stand Against Racism is an annual event held on the last Friday in April. The event began in New Jersey in April 2007 to help raise awareness that racism still exists in our communities and that it should no longer be tolerated. The Stand Against Racism movement is becoming a large and powerful demonstration across the country of hundreds of thousands of individuals that believe in a society free of racism.  Over 300,000 individuals participated in 2015.  Our local association has organized events during that week in April for the past seven years.

Week Without Violence

The YWCA’s Week Without Violence is a signature initiative that was created by YWCA USA 20 years ago to mobilize people in communities across the United States to take action against all forms of violence.  Week Without Violence is always held on the second week in October.  Our local association organizes different events each year on varying issues including domestic violence, bullying, hate crimes and violence against women.

Economic Advancement

New Choices

The YWCA's New Choices Professional Development Program provides assistance to individuals who were once dependent on someone else's income and are now ready to re/enter the workforce and/or attend college. New Choices creates opportunities for women and men to become self-sufficient and provides:

  • Personal Development: Gain life skills and personal enrichment through group and individual counseling and workshops.
  • Tuition Assistance: Receive funds for classes, books, transportation and child care.
  • Career Counseling: Learn techniques for resume writing, interviewing and enhance your job readiness skills.

Women of Achievement

For the past 31 years, outstanding women of our community have been recognized at the YWCA Lower Cape Fear’s prestigious Women of Achievement Awards. The Women of Achievement Awards is the YWCA’s signature event to recognize and celebrate the accomplishments of women and youth. Since 1985, this event has raised key support for the YWCA’s programs and services which promote racial justice and gender equity for over five thousand women and their families in southeastern North Carolina. This is the YWCA’s largest fundraising event and in 2015, over 400 community members attended.

Youth Development

Tot Spot Early Learning Center

Tot Spot is a full-day preschool program that accepts children ages 6 weeks to 5 years old.  The program focuses on social skills, emotional needs of children and early childhood education.  Tot Spot celebrated 34 years of service in 2016.

After School and Summer Camp

The YWCA After School and Summer Camp program enrolls children from ages 5 to 12. The program is licensed by the NC Division of Child Development and boasts a 5 Star Rating (the highest available) and provides the following services to all program participants:

  • Bi-weekly swimming
  • Weekly field trips
  • Nutritious snacks and healthy eating education
  • A natural, shaded playground
  • Homework assistance and tutoring
  • Safe transportation from area schools
  • Multi-cultural environment and education
  • Affordable rates and accepts DSS vouchers
  • Opportunities to participate in enrichment activities: Girls Circle, Girl Scouts, 4H Club, Lego Club, Kids for Peace and South State Bank Squirrel Club

Girls Circle

Girls Circle is built on a research-based model proven to increase girls' self-worth, body image and social support. The purpose is to encourage the development of strength, confidence, honesty, and communication skills so girls are able to take full advantage of their talents, interests, and potential for healthy relationships. Girls Circle has been a part of the After School and Summer Camp Programs since June 2008.

Grandparent Support Network

Grandparent Support Network is a support group for grandparents who are providing full time care to their grandchildren. 

For the last 10 years, Grandparent Support Network (GSN) has provided peer support for over 100 grandparents providing full-time care for children ages 0-21. A community initiative utilizing the evidence-promising Circle of Parents model, GSN started in 2005, a joint venture of CAPP Center and First Presbyterian Church (FPC). When CAPP closed in 2014, FPC served as interim fiduciary until the YWCA became the official GSN home in March 2015. GSN is a collaborative of YWCA, FPC, participants, volunteers, UNCW interns and community supporters.  

GSN is an open group; participants come for as long as they need. Some have been participants for years, while others use group to cope with a challenging life event. Group provides a continuum of support for children and families from birth to college graduation. Every stage of child development brings unique challenges and as children age, so do their caregivers. Caregivers’ physical, mental and emotional health continues to decline and they need assistance and resources to complete their parenting journey.


Health & Wellness


The YWCA Aquatics program offers a variety of classes and activities for members of all ages. Aquatics programs include water aerobics, swim lessons, swim team, Y Dub Tri-Club, lifeguarding and recertification classes and Fluid Recovery.  Programs can be enjoyed year-round as a dome is installed over the pool during the months of September through May. 

Fluid Recovery

Fluid Recovery is a progressive water fitness program that has been developed for breast cancer survivors in New Hanover, Brunswick, Pender and Columbus Counties.  Thanks to generous grant funding through the Cape Fear Memorial Foundation, the program is free to champions (survivors) who have completed chemotherapy and radiation treatments. Fluid Recovery was featured on the Today Show in October 2013. To date, Fluid Recovery has impacted the lives of over 70 champions.

Bridge Center

Easy bridge, duplicate bridge and bridge clubs are all available at the YWCA Bridge Center located in the NHC Government Center. All games are managed completely by YWCA volunteers.