2019 in Review

Last year was one of contrasts for Momentum where we celebrated historical milestones and the launch of new programs, and also experienced moments of frustration.

Last year marked 20 years of Momentum offering financial empowerment programs and we are proud of the thousands of Calgarians who have earned over $4.4M in matched savings during that time. We also launched Tech Plus – a technology job training program with promising early results, and we had the largest fundraising event in our history, which you can read more about in this report.

A lowlight we experienced was a major setback to our efforts to scale up our savings programs when our financial technology partner stopped operating in Canada. We worked hard to pivot and are now planning to launch an online savings program this year with a new technology partner.

Looking forward, it is difficult to foresee the future for Momentum considering the major impact of COVID-19 on our community. Despite the uncertainty and stress in our local economy, we will remain committed to providing opportunities for Calgarians struggling financially to get good jobs, create their own job by starting a business and to build their personal savings for any future shocks or emergencies.

Thank you for being part of the Momentum community. We hope you enjoy this look into our year.

Our Impact

Momentum is a change-making organization that acts as a bridge by taking an economic approach to poverty reduction and adding a social perspective to economic development initiatives.

Our programs are holistic, covering everything from financial literacy, entrepreneurship and employment training, to developing communication skills, building self-confidence and establishing positive social networks.

Business Development

Launching a business can require more than the fundamentals we teach in our classes. That’s why our coaching services are valued by our participants.

Cheryl had a decade of accounting experience before coming to Canada, and knew she wanted to start her own business. But being new to the country, she had no network.

I have a passion to do things on my own and accounting is something I’m good at doing,” says Cheryl. I wanted time to be flexible because I have children. I knew what I wanted to do, but I didn’t know how to start.

Her time at Momentum helped give her the business acumen she needed to start her accounting business TOP 1 Financial, but a clear benefit of her experience was the coaching provided.

Although I had the idea, coaching helped me form my plan,” says Cheryl. If you get too much information, you don’t know which to choose. It’s so much different when you have a coach who knows your story. Their advice is very customized to my situation.

Over her two years of coaching, not only was she able to establish her businessshe was able to build a network of other professionals who she bounces ideas off of. She considers this to be her new coaching.

“I love owning my own business, it’s where I belong,” says Cheryl. “I’m very entrepreneurial. I can implement my own vision, my ideas can be put into action, and it makes me feel good.” 

Financial Empowerment

Saving for a child’s education is difficult when living on a low-income.

We know children with education savings are more likely to attend post-secondary, and by helping families start a Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP) and access the Canada Learning Bond (CLB), their children can pursue their dreams.

When Mike became a widower, he knew he needed to start saving for the future of his five children but wasn’t sure how to start. Momentum introduced him to the CLB, which puts up to $2,000 of government money per child into an RESP.

“It feels surreal because nobody taught me how to save,” says Mike. “There’s not much in there right now, but it’s a start. It’s an accomplishment and a relief for sure.”

Skills Training

Momentum started as an organization offering a program training people for a career in the skilled trades. In 2019, we used our knowledge of skill building to launch Tech Plus and train the next generation of IT professionals.

Ramon always had a passion for technology, building his own computers and working his way up in the IT field, learning as he went. But after losing everything trying to start an IT business on the cusp of the 2009 recession, he lost his footing in the industry.

“I was trying to get back into IT, but you have to keep up with the industry,” says Ramon. I had previous experience, but after 3 months I wasn’t as fresh in the industry and it was tough to get an interview. I was throwing my name into a hat with a thousand names in it.

To support himself, Ramon got into youth work and spent 7 years gaining a passion for community-focused work, while still applying to the occasional IT job. He came across Momentum’s Tech Plus program.

Tech Plus helped Ramon get updated certifications, and get his foot in the door at ATB – his dream company that was at the forefront of technology and did a lot of work in the community. Ramon was able to do work experience at ATB and finished the program with two job offers from the company.

“It’s a supportive environment for me,” says Ramon. “The role is SAP Cloud Support. I have no experience in that, so I had to sell myself as an investment. I’m looking to grow with the company, and they know how to mentor well.”

Community Initiatives

Thrive, Momentum’s social enterprise training, works with businesses like The Allium to operate profitably and make a positive impact.

Jared and his fellow co-owners of The Allium were afraid they wouldn’t be successful when they opened. Not only were they an alternative economic plant-based restaurant in Calgary, where meat is a staple of most meals, but they were also competing against beloved and well-established vegetarian restaurants.

Their fear was alleviated when they opened to great acclaim, receiving full tables, plenty of media coverage and winning Avenue Magazine’s Best New Restaurant and Best Vegetarian Restaurant.

But to The Allium owners, the real win is the impact on food culture they’re able to make.

“By being true to what we believe in and being true to ourselves, it’s not only fed our souls, but Calgary appreciates that we are taking a stand. We like the idea that people leave and find out we’re worker owned, or find out they just ate a vegetarian meal. ”

For the Allium team, starting a business isn’t just about making a living; It’s an opportunity to make an impact on their community, and Thrive is proud to be a part of helping them take that step.

“On one end, you can say we’re just a restaurant and we’re not making a difference. On the other end, I go to bed some nights with a dumb grin on my face. We’re a small, dim light in a sea of lights that point to a new way of doing things.”

Learn more about community-focused businesses at belocal.org

Indigenous Engagement

We were excited to partner with Miskanawah and BowWest Community Resource Centre to offer a financial empowerment program where families could learn about money and earn a match to their savings.

“Financial literacy programs assist Canadians with understanding the fundamentals of money management. It is also an effective poverty reduction strategy, and for this reason Miskanawah is very grateful for partnership with Momentum.

For many of our vulnerable, low-income families, putting money away for the future is an unattainable goal. Momentum’s Family Saves program has been an amazing and meaningful opportunity for many of our clients to gain a sense of empowerment over their savings.

This program supported one of our clients in saving enough to purchase a laptop, which she is using to pursue post-secondary education, and another was able to saving enough money to purchase a new mattress for her family.

These financial achievements build resiliency and contribute to the wellness and safety of so many vulnerable people in Calgary. Miskanawah is excited about the future impact of a financial literacy strategy and looks forward to a continued partnership with Momentum.”

Hiy Hiy,
Kirby Redwood

Our Finances

The generosity of our partners and investors means we can continue to support Calgarians in their journey to contribute to their community in a meaningful way.

Thank you!

View our audited financial statements at momentum.org/finances2019

See the full list of our investors at momentum.org/financialpartners2019