Marquis Cabrera: Founder & President of Foster Skills

Marquis Cabrera, a former foster youth, started his own nonprofit, Foster Skills. The 23-year-old recent Northeastern graduate and Manhattan native says his childhood helped shape the man he is today, someone who looks out for the all too often, forgotten children. “As a child, I was in foster care from ages 7-15, and I want to help youth in foster care develop practical life skills to beat the odds. Less than 10% of youth in foster care graduate from high school - and what is even more appalling is that less 3% receive ever graduate from college,” said Marquis, who launched the organization in the fall of 2010.

Foster Skills helps children in the foster care system by providing support, connecting foster youth to resources and creating awareness about the issue. Even more, Foster Skills will launch MyHome, a web portal holding a multitude of resources for foster youth.
Marquis’ primary goal is to help foster youth achieve life success. “Foster Skills has developed a program that will tackle the odds facing children in foster care – and has the ability and opportunity to shape lives, to build futures, to produce valuable, capable, productive citizens,” he said. College students can volunteer with the organization, which is about to launch its life skills service program next month. “Young adults who were maltreated as youth have been found to achieve better psychological adjustment when they have high levels of current perceived social support,” said Marquis, which is why children and teenagers in the program stay for several years.
Before founding Foster Skills, Marquis was both Pledge Class President and a Brother of Kappa Sigma, and Founding President of Northeastern’s Pre-Law Fraternity of Phi Alpha Delta. You could say one of his first jobs as an advocate came about when given the position of campaign manager for one of his fraternity brothers. “I remember standing in the quad telling people to vote for Rob Ranley; I was saying the most ridiculous things to appeal to college students,” he remembers. “I was like “he’s a cutie, adorable and 100% mom approved, why not vote for him? You cannot say no to this cute face. He’s the man with a plan.” In the end, his campaign strategy, NU Runs on Ranley, took to the polls and proved a win for Rob.
Marquis has had a great deal of experience working with government and nonprofits; he worked for The Commonwealth of Massachusetts, City Year, and the White House. During his time at the White House, he worked in the Chief of Staff’s Office on numerous projects, and he helped to raise 12,000 books for Children’s Hospitals to advance the President Obama’s Literacy Initiative.

But despite his previous experiences, Marquis says that starting his own nonprofit was still extremely difficult. “Idealism needs realism. There will be some grueling times but the most successful companies in general are able to overcome the challenges instead of giving up,” he said.
He has brains, an education, looks, can snowboard, writing a book and he loves kids?? Marquis says he’s still looking for the right girl, someone who is “cute, smart, funny, dorky, and motivated to succeed at whatever she loves.” His advice for Northeastern undergrads: “Meet and greet new people. Live outside your comfort zone and get involved, [make] your college experience meaningful.”