Walker’s Legacy Foundation, a Washington, D.C.-based organization committed to creating entrepreneurial programming for businesswomen of color, will begin its “Moms Who Hustle” program in Newark this week.
“Walker’s Legacy is in 20 cities across the country, with a network of more than 20,000 women of color in business,” Natalie Madeira Cofield, founder and CEO of Walker’s Legacy Foundation, said. “The women who join this pilot program will join that network of likeminded women in cities such as theirs.
“This is, for many women, the first time that they have had a positive support structure build around professional development.”
“Moms Who Hustle” is a 12-week financial planning and entrepreneurship program designed to help Newark residents who are single, low-income, mothers between the ages of 21 and 35 launch and grow their own businesses.
“We identified this particular demographic and age group of women because they are at very important (crossroads) in their lives,” Madeira Cofield said. “They either can fall back into deeper forms of poverty or fall forward toward greater access to opportunities.
“We want to connect with them at this stage of their careers and in their lives.”
The “Moms Who Hustle” program will serve nearly 100 women across five cohorts in four cities across the nation: Newark, Washington, Baltimore and Detroit.
“Newark is a city with great history and pride, but also opportunity for programs such as this to connect with lower-income residents in order to help with self-efficacy and the stabilization of their homes,” Madeira Cofield said. “According to our research, more than 60 percent of (non-white) homes (in Newark) are single-income and mother-led, while one-third of single working women (in the area) are still considered low-income.”
The “Moms Who Hustle” program will therefore provide both financial planning tools and entrepreneurial insight, she added.
“We first go through the financial components of what it means to be able to save money,” Madeira Cofield said. “Realizing that so many women have not had proper financial education at home, we want to make sure that our cohorts personally feel comfortable with their finances before we begin the process of talking to them about starting, funding and managing their companies.
“Our curriculum, therefore, first focuses on the attainable goal of saving $500 and financial literacy.”
The second part of the “Moms Who Hustle” program, Madeira Cofield added, will focus on entrepreneurial business pillars, such as identifying target customers, funding a business with as little as $100, leveraging technology, scheduling and time management, and incorporation.
With both in-person and off-site components scheduled each week, “Moms Who Hustle” participants also will receive complimentary child care during the course and the ability to access the Walker’s Legacy mobile e-learning app.
“Our instructors are focused on connecting with the women while they are in class as well as offline to make sure that they are fully engaged in the program and are completing course materials,” Madeira Cofield said. “Women have the access to engage with this program at any time in the day, anywhere that they are.
“We understand that moms are very busy, and we want to make this program available to them regardless of whether they are physically present that week.”
A news conference held Tuesday at Essex County College in downtown Newark truly represented the support and partnership that Walker’s Legacy Foundation has created with the city of Newark, Madeira Cofield said.
“Newark has many mothers, both married and single, who often have to be the central economic power in their families,” Mayor Ras Baraka said at the event. “Others have dreams of owning their own businesses and becoming self-sufficient. But they often lack the resources, knowledge and confidence to achieve these dreams and goals.
“That is why we are privileged to partner with the Walker’s Legacy Foundation and proud to offer the ‘Moms Who Hustle’ program to empower our mothers with the many tools they need to become successful business owners and major factors in Newark’s economic growth.”
Also in attendance were Baye Adofo-Wilson, deputy mayor of economic and housing development in Newark, and Aisha Glover, acting president of the Newark Community Economic Development Corp.
“This was, according to the Newark Community Economic Development Corp., the most applied for entrepreneurship program the organization has launched in recent years, with more than 75 women already having applied,” Madeira Cofield said. “And we are still looking for women who want to complete their business plan, make significant process in advancing their companies and reach that savings milestone of $500 within 12 weeks’ time.”
Cofield added that submitting one’s candidacy, regardless of availability within the first cohort, ensures that interested parties will be informed of subsequent programming, and may help to connect them with the additional resources and small business programs available through the Newark Community Economic Development Corp.
“For a city to have its economic development corporation, its colleges, its city council and its mayor engaged and involved in telling residents that women and single mothers are extremely important to our economy — the city’s commitment to mothers is not lost on the Walker’s Legacy Foundation,” Madeira Cofield said.