About Empowerment Squared

Empowerment Squared is a thriving and dynamic family of program participants, staff, volunteers, partners, and community members who are working together to build a better world. Based in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, we work primarily in Southwestern Ontario and West Africa.

Meet our staff

Meet our Partners

Meet our Board

Our Story

Empowerment Squared was founded in 2007 as Global Citizens Care for Underprivileged and Refugee Empowerment by Leo Nupolu Johnson as a means to respond to the needs of the newcomer community in Hamilton. Since then, the organization renamed itself to Empowerment Squared and has grown its scope of impact and activities year over year.

Leo arrived in Canada as a government-sponsored refugee in 2006 after spending eight years in refugee camps across West Africa as a result of fleeing war-torn Liberia in 1998. Leo arrived in Canada alone and struggled through many of the challenges familiar to newcomers such as a lack of a support network, financial challenges, an unfamiliar culture, and a lack of qualifications. Through his efforts to establish himself, he met many others facing similar challenges and began to find ways to help, such as organizing academic help for struggling youth. Seeing the positive impact and response to these efforts, Leo worked with early supporters to formalize the organization.

Since 2010, Empowerment Squared has been governed by a strong and active board of directors, and later added an advisory council to further engage community leaders. Its staff complement continues to grow and consists of dedicated leaders who are committed to the advancement of the organization’s mission.

Highlights of Empowerment Squared’s journey over the years includes supporting over 3,000 newcomer youth and families, turning the Liberian Learning Centre from an idea into a leading program for change in Liberia, acting as an organizational mentor to developing non profits, welcoming thousands of attendees to our annual fundraising gala, hosting a number of special events such as the Winter Walk and Community Cup, expanding programs into diverse activities such as mindfulness and professional skills, and leveraging the support of exceptional partners.

Our Story

Empowerment Squared was founded in 2007 as Global Citizens Care for Underprivileged and Refugee Empowerment by Leo Nupolu Johnson as a means to respond to the needs of the newcomer community in Hamilton. Since then, the organization renamed itself to Empowerment Squared and has grown its scope of impact and activities year over year.

Leo arrived in Canada as a government-sponsored refugee in 2006 after spending eight years in refugee camps across West Africa as a result of fleeing war-torn Liberia in 1998. Leo arrived in Canada alone and struggled through many of the challenges familiar to newcomers such as a lack of a support network, financial challenges, an unfamiliar culture, and a lack of qualifications. Through his efforts to establish himself, he met many others facing similar challenges and began to find ways to help, such as organizing academic help for struggling youth. Seeing the positive impact and response to these efforts, Leo worked with early supporters to formalize the organization.

Since 2010, Empowerment Squared has been governed by a strong and active board of directors, and later added an advisory council to further engage community leaders. Its staff complement continues to grow and consists of dedicated leaders who are committed to the advancement of the organization’s mission.

Highlights of Empowerment Squared’s journey over the years includes supporting over 3,000 newcomer youth and families, turning the Liberian Learning Centre from an idea into a leading program for change in Liberia, acting as an organizational mentor to developing non profits, welcoming thousands of attendees to our annual fundraising gala, hosting a number of special events such as the Winter Walk and Community Cup, expanding programs into diverse activities such as mindfulness and professional skills, and leveraging the support of exceptional partners.

Our Impact

volunteers engage with different programs at Empowerment Squared and support the organization with over 3000 hours annually.

participants between the ages of 5 and 18 participate in programming annually

participants have been supported with scholarships and awards to access post-secondary and continuing education pathways

To View Empowerment Squared’s 2020 Community Report, Click Here.

To View Empowerment Squared’s 2021 Community Report, Click Here.

To View Empowerment Squared’s 2023 Community Report, Click Here.

97% of volunteers said they would encourage a friend to become a volunteer with Empowerment Squared

“I love that the program has activities that give the participants a space and time to share their stories. The Happiness Journal is their own time to talk about what they did in the day as well as things they love. Also, I really love that E2 emphasizes the importance of empowering the participants by including short activities on teaching them to love themselves and believe in their talents.”
2021 Homework Circle Volunteer

“This year at Homework Circle I am most proud of the fact that I understood subjects more confidently and I am at a higher level!”
Grade 5 Participant

“My favourite memory from this year is when Empowerment Squared provided me with headphones and our discussions about Black History, Asian history and other cultures.”
Grade 9 Participant

“I love that the program has activities that give the participants a space and time to share their stories. The Happiness Journal is their own time to talk about what they did in the day as well as things they love. Also, I really love that E2 emphasizes the importance of empowering the participants by including short activities on teaching them to love themselves and believe in their talents.”

2021 Homework Circle Volunteer


“This year at Homework Circle I am most proud of the fact that I understood subjects more confidently and I am at a higher level!”

Grade 5 Participant


“My favourite memory from this year is when Empowerment Squared provided me with headphones and our discussions about Black History, Asian history and other cultures.”

Grade 9 Participant

Thought Leadership

Through our thought leadership activities, we are committed to bringing wisdom from global leaders like Nobel laureate Leymah Gbowee, author Lawrence Hill, and Ndaba Mandela, grandson of Nelson Mandela, to audiences in Hamilton and across the world, both in person and online. As well, Empowerment Squared, staff, alumni, and supporters are active in sharing the lessons we have learned from building our organization to global audiences.

Thought Leadership

Through our thought leadership activities, we are committed to bringing wisdom from global leaders like Nobel laureate Leymah Gbowee, author Lawrence Hill, and Ndaba Mandela, grandson of Nelson Mandela, to audiences in Hamilton and across the world, both in person and online. As well, Empowerment Squared, staff, alumni, and supporters are active in sharing the lessons we have learned from building our organization to global audiences.

Photo Gallery

Picture of volunteer assisting a student at an Empowerment Squared homework circle

Empowerment Squared program participants, community members and team members attend the screening of Black Panther as part of the Our Youth Our Future campaign

Picture of school principal discussing a student's behaviour with the young kid and his parent

Executive Director Leo Nupolu Johnson and past Board Chair Mark John Stewart attend the groundbreaking ceremony of the Liberian Learning Centre in Paynesville, Liberia

Picture of diverse young kids in a classroom

Members of the Empowerment Squared community at the CF Lime Ridge Winter Walk fundraiser

Picture of a group of diverse young kids running after a soccer ball in a playground

Keneshia Gardiner, former Manager of Strategic Initiatives, assists a program participant during our digital literacy program

Picture of 2 diverse young adults participating in a virtual fitness class

Empowerment Squared staff and volunteers pose together at the 2019 Community Cup

Picture of young, diverse couple operating a business

Scholarship and award recipients take a group photo at Empowerment Squared’s Annual Celebration

Picture of 2 diverse young adults participating in a virtual fitness class

Executive Director Leo Nupolu Johnson interviews MP Ahmed Hussen, Minister of Families, Children and Social Development

Picture of young, diverse couple operating a business

Attendees and volunteers at the 2nd Annual Marvin Caplan Memorial Concert, hosted by Beth Jacob Synagogue in support of Empowerment Squared

Picture of 2 diverse young adults participating in a virtual fitness class

Nancy Baker of the Rotary Club of Hamilton presents Nobel laureate Leymah Gbowee with flowers after her speaking engagement hosted by Empowerment Squared

Picture of young, diverse couple operating a business

Executive Director Leo Nupolu Johnson crosses the finish line at the Ride for Change fundraiser

Picture of 2 diverse young adults participating in a virtual fitness class

Participants at Empowerment Squared’s African Cup of Nations hosted at Tim Hortons Field

Picture of young, diverse couple operating a business

Participants at the African Youth and Governance Conference – Canadian Diaspora Launch at the David Braley Health Sciences Centre

Picture of 2 diverse young adults participating in a virtual fitness class

Artist Stylo Starr hosts the All in for Change art workshop along with Israel Crooks as part of the Our Youth Our Future campaign