KITCHENER -- A unique program is hoping to give young women and girls in Waterloo Region a much needed boost.

For Us Girls foundation founder and president Aminka Belvitt says they are all about giving women and girls the tools they need to achieve success.

“It’s an international community foundation based on feminist, anti-racist, and anti-colonial perspectives,” she said. “What we do is provide empowerment, skills, development, and innovating mentorship program for marginalized girls.”

The chapters in Ontario and Quebec help women and girls take what they are passionate about and turn it into a career.

“We have three programs, our ‘C for Coding’ program, ‘B Fierce and Daring’ program that we run in primary and high schools, and our accelerator program, which is specifically for Black, Indigenous, and girls of colour.”

For Us Girls was originally started in Montreal back in 2015. Belvitt says she wanted to bring these supports closer to home in the community she grew up in.

“It’s important to support local girls in their mission, whether they’re going to do it in Kitchener-Waterloo, in New York, or anywhere,” she said. “I always wanted to make sure that whatever type of professional success I had in life outside of my foundation, that I always made sure that I gave back to where I grew up.”

The program came to Waterloo Region in the fall of 2019.

Tawheed Musa and Latesha Thompson are two of the four local recipients of the 2020 scholarship program for Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour.

“When I saw all the girls around me who were Black and that they looked like me, I felt a sense of comfort immediately, because we were all there for one goal: to make a difference,” said Musa.

Both women are from Kitchener and attend Ryerson University.

“My hopes and dreams in the future are to also put back the effort into my community and just support Black students with the opportunity,” said Thompson. “Just to know that they have someone there helping them out with employment and helping them with whatever they’re interested in.”

For Us Girls has been holding virtual meetings throughout the pandemic, but hopes to open their own facility in Waterloo Region down the road.