North­eastern alumnus Mar­quis Cabrera deferred enroll­ment at an Ivy League grad­uate school after grad­u­ating in 2011 with a degree in crim­inal jus­tice. Instead, he chose to con­tinue devel­oping Foster Skills, a Boston-​​based non­profit he started as an under­grad­uate that sup­ports the city’s foster children.

It’s a per­sonal cause for Cabrera, who grew up in foster care before being adopted as a teen. Now, his hard work and ded­i­ca­tion have earned him the recog­ni­tion of being named one of the region’s top inno­va­tors by The Boston Globe.

The deck is stacked against chil­dren in foster care,” the Globe wrote in a pro­file of Cabrera that ran in the newspaper’s spe­cial Globe 100 issue last month. “No one knows that better than Mar­quis Cabrera, a former foster kid who beat the odds to grad­uate col­lege. Now he’s trying to help other foster chil­dren achieve life suc­cess through his non­profit social enter­prise, Foster Skills.”

After growing up in New York City’s foster care system, Cabrera wanted to create an orga­ni­za­tion that could sup­port chil­dren like him and lobby for sys­temic changes. With those goals in mind, he cre­ated Foster Skills, where he served as CEO until Jan­uary. Cabrera stepped down, he said, to allow enough time for the orga­ni­za­tion to tran­si­tion to new lead­er­ship as he con­tinued his education.

Foster Skills has worked with some 450 local youth and orga­nized more than 80 work­shops focused on teaching life skills. The orga­ni­za­tion has also estab­lished part­ner­ships with like-​​minded orga­ni­za­tions; lob­bied for new leg­is­la­tion advo­cating for edu­ca­tion and judi­cial sta­bility; devel­oped MyHome, a web portal of resources for foster chil­dren; and launched the Foster Youth In Action Ini­tia­tive to share sto­ries of suc­cessful foster youth.

At an event at the Mass­a­chu­setts State House in April, Cabrera and sev­eral cur­rent North­eastern stu­dents lob­bied leg­is­la­tors and ral­lied mem­bers of the public to sup­port leg­is­la­tion that would improve the lives of foster chil­dren in Mass­a­chu­setts who age out of the system.

Now a member of the non­profit organization’s board of direc­tors, Cabrera is nav­i­gating a web of oppor­tu­nity, including grad­uate school. Cabrera credits his experiential-​​learning oppor­tu­ni­ties at the White House, City Year, and the startup Way­fair “for devel­oping the skills and con­nec­tions to build Foster Skills.”

At 24, Cabrera is the youngest of this year’s crop of 12 leading inno­va­tors, who include inven­tors, CEOs, researchers, and other local luminaries.

Mar­quis is truly a super­hero for his work in building and sup­porting fam­i­lies, and inspiring other young people to be change-​​makers as well,” Boston City Coun­cilor Tito Jackson told the Globe.