Young Leaders SPARK! Award Recipient, Marcela Betancur

Saying Yes.

Marcela Betancur is this year’s Young Leaders SPARK! Award recipient. As a member of United Way’s Young Leaders Circle, Marcela is an active volunteer; in fact, she first became involved with the group by volunteering to help at the Rhode Island Community Food Bank during Thanksgiving.

Why did she agree to volunteer? Marcela firmly believes in taking chances, “My advice is to always say yes,” she says. “When there aren’t a lot of opportunities in a community, as is the case with mine, you have to believe in yourself and be ready to say yes.”

Living by these words has worked well for her, “I truly believe it helped me get to where I am today,” she explains. Today, Marcela is the Executive Director of the Latino Policy Institute, a position she loves, because as she puts it, “For the first time I’m working directly with the Latino community — my community. I’m able to advocate for policy solutions that our state really needs, such as affordable housing, healthcare, and economic equity… that makes me really proud and really excited.”

She believes that the Young Leaders Circle offers its members the tools they need to say yes, “In the past few years, we’ve started to offer more training sessions in areas such as starting a small business, taking charge of your finances, and building a secure future,” Marcela explains. “We’re learning things as young professionals that some adults are never taught,” she continues.

The Young Leaders SPARK! Award recognizes outstanding young Rhode Islanders who serve their community through exceptional volunteerism, philanthropy, and leadership. It was created to honor individuals who spark change, make a difference, and influence others.

In other words: young people like Marcela, who embody what it means to LIVE UNITED. Looking at her career and the difference she’s making, it’s not hard to understand why she’s being honored at our 93rd Annual Celebration.

Join United Way of Rhode Island on Thursday, October 10, for our 93rd Annual Celebration. Register today.


By: Jason Boulay,
Project Manager, Digital Media Marketing,
United Way of Rhode Island