WomenRising is the foremost community-based organization for women in Hudson County. Governed and managed by women, WomenRising assists women and their families to achieve self-sufficiency and live safe, fulfilling and productive lives, through social services, economic development, and advocacy services.
WomenRising seeks to ensure that indigent families’ critical need for affordable housing is addressed by maintaining a close, supportive relationship with its subsidiary, Fairmount Housing Corporation.
1905-2016 - 111 Years of Service
WomenRising is the leading community-based organization for women in Hudson County. WomenRising is governed by an all-women Board of Trustees and managed mostly by women. WomenRising’s programs help women achieve self-sufficiency and live safe, fulfilling and productive lives, through social services, economic development, advocacy services and affordable housing.
On January 1, 2002 our organization changed its name to WomenRising, but has been serving women for over 100 years.
WomenRising was founded as a Jersey City YWCA in May 1905 by a group of 168 women who worked at Colgate and Company. The organization began as a membership organization with services including Bible Study classes, dressmaking classes, and residences for single women. By the end of that year, there were 550 members.
By 1911, the YWCA began getting involved in community issues. For example, they launched a campaign against unsanitary cellar bakeries and the selling of contaminated food. They also helped organize the Jersey City Health Council and the Interracial Council of Jersey City.
By 1918, the YWCA established the International Institute to assist foreign-born women and girls by helping them to understand customs laws and how to adapt to their new lives in America. The International Institute is still helping people today in their transition from one society to another.
By the end of the 1920's, the YWCA had successfully raised over $1 million to construct our current home, 270 Fairmount Avenue.
During the Depression years, the YW struggled to stay solvent and provided new services that were needed including classes to help jobless women learn clerical skills and vocational guidance programs.
During World War II, the Y was a USO center and supported all the women working in defense plants. The doors were open 24 hours a day to provide recreational services for women who were working round-the-clock shifts.
WomenRising has always changed with the times.
In the 1950's, services for Black women were integrated with services for white women.
In the 1960's, the Jersey City Job Corp was embarked on by the YWCA.
Many of the services we offer today were started in the 1970's. For example, Family Support Services (FSS) began offering counseling to help families get through traumatic events. Today FSS continues to support families with counseling, crisis management, information, referrals and more.
In 1975, we opened the Group Home for Girls, a therapeutic home for teenage girls who cannot live with their families. Our Battered Women's Program also began in 1975 as a volunteer effort to provide a safe haven for women to escape their abusers. Today it is the state-designated agency in Hudson county for domestic violence services. The program offers shelter for abused women and their children, a 24-hour hot-line, and intensive counseling and support services, including a liaison to accompany and guide women through the court system.
In 1980, the Family Advocacy Program started. This program is designed to keep families intact and prevent children from being placed in foster care or group homes. Counselors in this program work in the home to teach parenting and home management skills and work on building positive family relationships.
The 1980’s brought many organizational changes. During this time, the YWCA was fighting bankruptcy and teamed up with a private developer to save the building and most importantly the services to reemerge as a stronger and revitalized organization. During this time part of the building was renovated to provide 79 senior housing units. The restored Y was rededicated in 1983.
The success of the senior housing project eventually led to the development of an affordable housing component of the Y. The Fairmount Housing Corporation, a wholly owned subsidiary, was created in 1986 in response to the housing needs of our clients and their families. Today Fairmount Housing Corp operates a senior housing residence in Bayonne and a multi-family building in Jersey City.
In 1988, the Jersey City YWCA merged with the Bayonne YWCA. Together they became the YWCA of Hudson County. Both agencies were growing and embarking on much-needed services for women. The merger created an even stronger organization to serve women and families.
In response to the changing needs of women, other services were added over the years including:
Our 110+-year history has introduced many new programs and services. In 2015 alone, WomenRising served over 11,500 individual clients in 11 programs. The agency is unique because of our focus on empowerment of women and our capacity to take a woman and her family through a broad series of programs to meet her needs—within one agency.