Rising women leaders, this one’s for you. Momentum is a Birmingham-based nonprofit that’s been offering leadership development programs since 2002. They’re currently accepting applications for the fourth-ever Momentum Upward Early-Career Program through August 31. Keep reading to find out all the details, including how to apply.
This women’s leadership development network is coming up on its 20th anniversary. They started off with an Executive Leadership Program, and then, after enough women said “I wish I’d had this information at the start of my career,” Upward was born.
Who’s behind the program + who it’s for
To get the scoop, we spoke with April Benetollo, Momentum’s CEO, Andrea McCaskey, Director of Programs and current participant Gabi Hembree.
You may be a woman at the beginning stages of your career who’s aspiring to become a leader. Perhaps you’ve got a bit of experience, including some management experience as well. Or you might be a woman who’s just beginning your leadership journey after a long period of formal schooling, or re-entering the workforce.
No matter your specific age or whether you’ve been in the workforce for five or ten years, you’re invited to apply for Momentum’s Upward Early-Career Program.
There will be two classes of 30 participants each, for a total of 60 participants.
What you need to know about Momentum’s Upward Early-Career Program
The nuts and bolts
- You’ll meet—in person—every month for half a day from February-October 2022.
- Meetings take place at the Birmingham Bar Association on 2nd Avenue North, with plenty of room for physical distancing.
What you’ll get out of Momentum’s Upward program
- You’ll gain tools that will help you understand the value you bring to your organization and how better to navigate your career.
- You’ll be joining a powerful and deeply engaged alumnae network, with over 550 women who have completed Momentum’s flagship Executive Leadership Program, and 150+ women who have completed Upward. This also gives you the benefit of knowing that whatever you’re going through, you’re not alone.
Favorites + takeaways
I asked Andrea McCaskey, developer of Upward’s curriculum, for two of her favorite parts of the program. Here’s what she said:
- The Strength Scope with Kathy Boswell—this helps participants understand what they bring to the table. “We want them to walk away with, ‘I know who I am and I know the value that I bring to this organization.’”
- Leadership essentials with McDonald Graham, with a focus on your personal bandwidth. “Some people can do 20 things at a time. Some can do 3. If you know where you are in that, it’s so much easier to navigate your life.”
“One of my favorite takeaways so far has been breaking down the myth of the work-life balance and understanding that life isn’t an either/or scale—it’s a blend. Each individual has different elements that make up their blend—the elements being those things that really matter to you.
That’s helped me maintain focus in my personal life and how that relates to my career which has in turn allowed me to feel more satisfied (I’m actually getting more work done too).”Gabi Hembree, current Upward participant
Cost, scholarships and how to apply for Momentum’s Upward program
- Cost: $2000 per participant—this is usually borne by a company or a combination of a company and participant
- Scholarships: limited partial and full scholarships available, with no guarantee of getting one. Simply indicate on your application if you need a scholarship to participate.
- Apply: Upward is accepting applications now through August 31
Here’s what Gabi Hembree says to any woman who is on the fence about applying:
“Do it! If you’re wanting to grow yourself as a leader, meet and get the opportunity to mentor (or be mentored by) leading professionals in Birmingham, and have fun while doing it—there is absolutely no reason to NOT sign up for Momentum’s Upward class. I promise—you’ll thank me (and yourself) later.”
Other ways to get involved with Momentum
April Benetollo stressed that “not everyone is in the right stage to participate in the Upward or Executive Leadership Programs, but they can still benefit from other professional and personal development opportunities Momentum provides.”
- During the time of COVID, with one in four women considering downsizing or leaving her career because it just became too much, Momentum started a series of free webinars, workshops and inspirational sessions to help women keep their heads in the game, keep supporting each other and pick up or hone new skills during the pandemic.
- You can find the Momentum Matters podcast, with video versions of podcast episodes, as well as past webinars, on the Momentum Leaders YouTube channel.
- A year-long, every-other-month pilot program called “Men with Momentum” launched in April 2021, with 38 men from eight different companies. This provides a safe space for men to have honest discussions about what gets in the way of mentoring and supporting women and people of color.
- Momentum also provides a free mentor matching program.