With a network of over 1,400 leaders from 115 countries, the Atlas Corps Community is growing every day. It is time to look back and to showcase the achievements of amazing network and share stories on the global impact of our Alumni, Fellows, and Scholars.

Join us as we speak with Atlas Corps Scholar Marcos (Cohort 8, Brazil) from the Atlas Corps: Brazil Northern States Emerging Leaders Initiative. Marcos is the Co-Founder and Communications Directions of Actum Brazil, a nongovernmental organization dedicated to impactful youth development in the Amazon Region through relationship-building.

Thank you, Marcus, for your work alongside the youth in the Amazon Region—it is truly inspiring! We wish you and your team at Actum Brazil the best in your current work. We are excited to see what more you have in store for the future!

Name: Marcos Paulo Melo Silva

Home Country: Brazil

Current Organization: Actum Brazil

Role at current organization: Co-Founder and Communications Director

Social Issues that you have worked with: No poverty, Quality education, Reduced inequalities

Tell us about projects you have worked on?

Actum Brazil is an NGO that seeks to generate a positive social impact by developing and transforming young people from the Amazon Region by their relationship with the world, with others, and with themselves. Together with the other two founders of the organization, I work on Actum Brazil’s strategic and institutional planning, the modeling and structuring of social development projects, designing the proposals for fundraising and financing, and the strategic planning of advocacy actions. Additionally, I work on the relationships with our partner organizations and the implementation of the personal and professional development program for our team of volunteers–which over the years has included more than 60 young people from all over Brazil.

Besides our more than 50 scholarships for language studies and another 50 scholarships in STEM, I am very proud of two other Actum Brazil projects that I was a part of:

1. ACTMUN – a Model United Nations program exclusively for youth from the Amazon Region, of which has already had two editions and impacted more than 20 young people, and

2. The Selection Processes Track – a training event with exclusive content, experienced speakers, and debates about job openings, soft skills and self-knowledge, interviews, résumés, and networking.

Co-Founders of Actum Brazil — Jessica Pereira, Lucas Ganum, and Marcos Melo

Moreover, as the Communications Director, I also have a specific performance in the area of communication and branding of the organization, which involves copywriting, design creation, social media analysis and interaction with the Actum community, as well as the modeling of a communication plan that is capable of delivering our message to our audience and addressing issues of relevance to the youth of the Amazon Region. Specifically in the area of communication, I am leading the creation of an e-book for high school youth with tips on how to get development opportunities.

Finally, with the support of Atlas Corps, we are developing a new project called Lideractum, which will be an exclusive leadership program for young people in the Amazon Region with the objective of stimulating a continuous development network and creating local changemakers to implement small projects in their own communities.

Zoom meeting with part of Actum Brazil’s volunteer team

Why is it important for you to work in youth development?

As a young gay man born and raised in the Amazon Region, I know what it is like to face many challenges in order to achieve my dreams. Even though I am a very privileged person compared to many other young people in the region, it took a lot of effort to get where I am. That’s why I see the development of youth from the Amazon Region as something extremely important, so that the new generations will not have to face the same barriers that I and many others faced.

Although the Amazon Region is internationally famous and rich for its biodiversity, it unfortunately lacks investments in several areas such as health, infrastructure, security, and education–especially when we talk about the region’s youth.

Youth in the Amazon Region have less access to development and employment opportunities than youth in other regions of Brazil. This is due to different factors, such as the geographic distance and lack of investments in the region, low availability of opportunities for young people in the region and their lack of knowledge about alternative ways of developing themselves, and the limiting belief of “incapacity”.

Social action carried out with public high school students before the COVID-19 pandemic that resulted in the idea of creating Actum Brazil.

How has Atlas Corps contributed to your professional and personal accomplishments?

Participating in Atlas Corps Virtual Leadership Institute was a life changing experience in several ways! I got to meet extraordinary and inspiring people, connect with other young leaders around the world, and take my project to another level, all in a warm and safe environment.

Atlas Corps has helped me in a technical aspect by teaching me the tools to bring impact to my actions, and also in an empathetic and human sense by being a bridge between inspiring people and stories, as well as assisting in the mental health and well-being of everyone who is part of this large family.

What is your favorite Atlas Corps memory?

Without a doubt my favorite memories are the moments I shared with the other Scholars, especially those who are also from Northern Brazil! Having the opportunity to meet these young leaders and connect with them was extremely important for creating a sense of belonging. To be with them was to realize that, despite our differences, we have similar stories in that we go through similar dreams and difficulties, and that we can learn from each other about how to develop our own communities.

What advice do you have for applicants and current Scholars?

My advice is: Don’t be afraid to make mistakes and to connect with others! Ask questions whenever you feel it is necessary, no matter how irrelevant or embarrassing it may seem to you. Also, be available to meet new people and try your best to learn with/from them.

What message would you like to send to individuals who support Atlas Corps?

Thank you for supporting such an amazing organization as Atlas Corps. You can be sure that your help is making a difference in the lives of thousands of young leaders around the world–just like me–and their respective communities!

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Photos from Marcos’ personal archive