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  NCNWMary McLeod Bethune









Bethune Program Development Center

As one of the four components of the National Centers for African American Women, the Bethune Program Development Center (BPDC) serves as a clearinghouse and resource for the effective delivery of national and community-based service programs. These programs are designed to support women of African descent in their efforts to achieve and maintain self-sufficiency and strengthen the Black community..

BPDC is committed to building the capacity of NCNW members and Sections to respond to the diverse needs of the African American community, while connecting African American women and families to the resources and support necessary to achieve and maintain their full potential.


BPDC offers initiatives and programming that focus on women of African descent, their health, education, economic empowerment, and leadership development, stressing the empowerment of girls, ages 12 -18 (including NCNW Youth Sections) and young women, ages 19-25 (including NCNW Collegiate Sections), to successfully prosper, compete, and lead. The wide ranges of activities available through the BPDC are designed to help women improve their lives, strengthen their communities, and prepare the next generation of female leaders. It is also the goal of the BPDC to collaborate with the other NCNW Centers on relevant projects to strengthen the core mission of NCNW.

Current Program Activities:

Women & Girls Changing the World is the current BPDC’s overall initiative that focuses its programs supporting African American women and girls/youth working together to create positive change in their communities and around the world in the following areas:

  • Economic Empowerment
  • Health
  • Creating a Better World for Women and Girls

The BPDC has and is engaged in the following activities in support of its mission:


  • AARP Long-Term Care Planning

    Woman to Women: Planning Your Secure Future
    NCNW & AARP Team Up to Educate Boomer Women of African Descent about the Need to Plan for Long-Term Care.
  • Women are often the caregivers in the family. But, they need information and support to plan their long-term future as well. NCNW was selected in 2010 along with two other women's organizations (AAUW and MANA, A National Latina Organization) to assist in implementing the AARP Long-Term Care Planning campaign. The project entailed conducting education and awareness activities to educate Boomer women of African descent about the need to plan for future long-term care needs. The following sections were selected to participate and represent their respective states: Washington Section (District of Columbia); Northern Virginia Section (Virginia); Greater Baltimore Section (Maryland); Manhattan Section (New York); and, Passaic County Section (New Jersey). They all did an outstanding job of bringing this important message to their communities. Collectively, they served over 500 women, including almost 100 “Boomer” women, and a few good men. Expansion in 2011 is already underway around the country.
  • NCNW will conduct FREE community forums that offer information and resources on planning for long-term care to the general public in selected states with materials provided by AARP. The forums will focus on these four areas:
    • Home and Community
    • Finances
    • Health
    • Legal (Documenting your health care decisions)

Especially if you’re one of 40 million Boomer women born in the United States between 1946 and 1964, these are forums you don’t want to miss. Find out what you can do now to make life easier for you and your family in the future. With a solid action plan and the right resources, you can live your best life from now on. 

The forums are funded by AARP ( in partnership with NCNW, Inc.


  • Fit for Life” Obesity Project – Phase II resumed on August 1, 2010 after a brief hiatus and ran until March 2011. A new addition to the project during this phase was funding from NICHD/NIH to the NCNW to support the 31 Cluster Leaders charged with implementing the project in 26 communities across the country. This funding went a long way toward ensuring that more parents, caregivers and young people took part in the “Fit for Life” workshops and trainings to help children stay healthy.  Next steps are being planned now. 
  • Health Care Reform Tour — On April 12, 2012 the National Council of Negro Women kicked-off their ten city Health Care Reform Tour in Atlanta, GA. The purpose of this tour is to address and educate the African American community about the current state of our health. The tour will also inform our community about the Affordable Care Act and which provisions prove to be the most critical in the fight of improving the health of the Black community. The tour is set to take place in the following cities:
    • Atlanta, GA
    • Miami, FL
    • Albuquerque, NM
    • Detroit, MI
    • New Orleans, LA
    • New York, NY
    • Newark, NJ
    • Jackson, MS
    • Alexandria, VA
    • Baltimore, MD
  • First Annual National Dance Day (7/31/2010) – NCNW joined forces with WandaWoman® Fitness to support the first annual National Dance Day in the District of Columbia. This event was the brainchild of Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton who introduced a Congressional Resolution and was joined by “So You Think You Can Dance’s” Nigel Lythgoe. The goal is to encourage Americans to live a physically active lifestyle and to have fun doing it.
  • NBC4 Health & Fitness Expo (1/16-17/2010)NCNW Youth section members along with adult section members from DC/MD/VA participated in the 17th Annual expo – some even performed the “Everybody Work It!” line dance with WandaWoman® Fitness on the main Demonstration Stage. The NBC4 Washington Health & Fitness Expo, the largest, best-attended Consumer Wellness Expo in the country, delivers on their message to attendees eager to be educated about products and services to help them stay healthy and fit. We expanded our network by over 100 individuals, including girls from the area interested in NCNW. We also participated in the 18th Annual NBC4 Expo in 2011.


Our girls are in crisis! Girls of African descent in the 21st century are faced with challenges that threaten their future including poverty, low academic achievement, poor self-esteem, teen pregnancy, high drop-out rates, media exploitation, sophisticated cyber bullying, and lack of positive leadership and mentoring.Despite these challenges, girls not only can, but do, survive and succeed with the support of women who believe and invest in them for the health and sustainability of our communities.

  • Youth & Collegiate SectionsContinue to support and encourage the organization of Youth and Collegiate Sections.

  • Youth Development: The Female Leadership Pipeline project (FLP) is a multi-platform outreach effort to provide girls of African descent (African-American, African, Caribbean and Afro-Brazilian) with in-depth leadership training, college preparation, life skills training, and in-depth exploration of their history, heritage and culture.  This project, supported by AT&T and to be launched in the Fall of 2011, will be implemented in large part via a newly developing web-portal which will serve as the nexus upon which girls of African descent can learn and interact with girls based in the US, Africa, the Caribbean, and South America, thereby providing a truly global reach for both learning in leadership and the birth and maintenance of on-going cross-continental friendships.  All, as they prepare for college and to become the next generation of female leaders of African descent! (Replaces Global Girls).  This initiative will soon move to the Dorothy I. Height Leadership Institute. 

History: The Global Girls program – brought together girls for activities, cultural enrichment, empowerment, leadership and life skills development. The Global Girls inaugural event took place on August 9, 2008 at NCNW Headquarters, attended by over 50 girls and 20 adults from the community and NCNW Youth Sections – Northern Virginia, Montgomery County, Washington, DC, New York and Philadelphia. The 2nd Annual Global Girls Town Hall Meeting took place on August 8, 2009.



Past programs of the Bethune Program Development Center include:

African American Women as We Age

Partnership for Academic Achievement

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