Our Story

Our Story

Roca has been privileged to meet thousands of young people since 1988. We have learned so much from each one of them. They have grown, developed and changed, and so has Roca.

Mission

Roca’s mission is to disrupt the cycle of incarceration and poverty by helping young people transform their lives.

Theory of Change

Roca’s theory of change is that young people, when re‐engaged through positive and intensive relationships, can change their behaviors and develop life, education, and employment skills to disrupt the cycles of poverty and incarceration.

2016

Major cities across the country explore with Roca the possibility of a first out-of-state replication of Roca’s Intervention Model.

Roca completes the development of a new Cognitive Behavioral Theory (CBT) curriculum in collaboration with Community Psychiatry PRIDE, an implementation and dissemination clinical research center at Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School. The two-year project, supported by the Laura and John Arnold Foundation, introduces the first CBT curriculum targeting justice-involved young adults in community settings.

Roca focuses its young mothers’ programming on the highest risk young mothers, thanks Healthy Families for 18 years of partnership, and expands Roca’s High Risk Young Mothers program.

Roca opens its site in Lynn, MA, a satellite office of the organization’s main site in Chelsea.

2015

New research in brain development and social sciences causes criminal justice agencies across the country to start focusing on young adults, a population historically overlooked by the justice system. In a search for effective interventions for justice-involved young adults, Roca’s Intervention Model is at the heart of national attention.

2014

pic-timeline-2014-boston-intervention-model

A second replication of Roca’s Intervention Model is launched in Boston.

Pay for Success project is launched, and Massachusetts criminal justice agencies start referring high-risk young men to Roca. Financial investors in the project include the lenders Goldman Sachs, The Kresge Foundation and Living Cities; the philanthropic grantors Laura and John Arnold Foundation, New Profit Inc. and The Boston Foundation; and Roca and Third Sector Capital Partners.

2013

The High-Risk Young Mothers program is launched, focusing on young mothers who are not ready, willing and able to participate in work, school and traditional parenting and home visiting programs, supported by the Kellogg Foundation. Roca conducts a comprehensive literature review and runs a “think tank”, leading to the conclusion that this population is not served by any existing program in the country.

Roca is invited to join Harvard Kennedy School’s Executive Session on Community Corrections, a 3-year collaborative effort to advance new thinking and develop best practices in the field.

Roca celebrates its 25th anniversary with partners and participants.

2012

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts announces that Roca is selected to lead the nation’s largest Pay for Success initiative, the Massachusetts Juvenile Justice Pay for Success project, through which over 1,000 high-risk young men will be engaged in Roca’s Intervention Model.

Community Resources for Justice at The Crime and Justice Institute completes its Implementation Study of Roca’s High-Risk Youth Intervention Model, concluding a series of reports about Roca’s work.

2011

A third Theory of Change process leads Roca to an even clearer definition of its target population, focusing on justice-involved young adults and reducing recidivism.

Analysis of Roca’s data and further research lead Roca to shorten the length of the Intervention Model from a five-year intervention (three years intensive, two years follow-up) to the current time period of four years of intervention (two years intensive, two years follow-up).

Roca develops a Workforce Readiness Criteria, creating a standard of what deems a young person workforce-ready, so that young people are prepared to be placed in jobs and to retain employment.

2010

First replication of Roca’s Intervention Model in Springfield, MA, serving young men from several communities in Western Massachusetts.

pic-location-office-roca-springfield

Roca is awarded the Pathways Out of Poverty Grant, a $2.3M support from the US Department of Labor focused on helping disadvantaged population develop pathways into economic self-sufficiency.

2009

pic-timeline-2009-pre-vocational-training

Pre-vocational training is launched in order to expand employment opportunities for graduates.

A second Theory of Change process leads Roca to narrow its target population and focus the young men’s programming exclusively on high-risk participants. Services for low- and medium-risk young men are gradually discontinued, and enrollment protocols are updated to reflect target population change.

2008

pic-timeline-2008-logo-crj

Working with Community Resources for Justice at the Crime and Justice Institute, Roca starts an Implementation and Outcome Evaluation project, with the goal of preparing the organization for future evaluation. Roca explores its own capacity to deliver a clear behavior change model and to track participant outcomes.

RIRI, the Roca Immigrants and Refugees Initiative starts, serving high risk young adult refugees and immigrants, and providing adult programming including ESL classes, community organizing and “know our rights” workshops.

2006

Roca’s Annual Breakfast is held for the first time, celebrating together with Roca supporters the achievements of Roca’s young people and the organization’s growth.

Roca inaugurates its Transitional Employment Program (TEP), the key part of Roca’s employment programming, with support from Strategic Grant Partners. In TEP, participants work on Roca-supervised work crews and earn real wages for real work, while learning critical work skills.

Data tracking system is implemented at Roca, based on Social Solution’s Efforts to Outcomes (ETO) Software. Roca starts careful tracking of multiple aspects of the program

2005

Roca starts its first Theory of Change process, with assistance of the Edna McConnell Clark Foundation. Roca identifies Relentless Outreach and Transformational Relationships as key areas of expertise and starts a process to ensure that Roca’s day-to-day operations align with the organization’s mission.

2004

Roca learns about the concept of Stages of Change and begins to study its implementation in programming and model design.

2002

The VIA Project starts, a “street school” for the most disenfranchised young adults, with a $2M grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.

2000

Roca is selected as a United Way of Massachusetts Bay Affiliate Agency.

pic-timeline-2000-clark-foundation

The new Edna McConnell Clark Foundation Growth Fund chooses Roca as one of its three sites, resulting in a five-year, $2.1M investment.

pic-timeline-2000-peacemaking-circles

Roca learn the practice of Peacemaking Circles from the Tagish Tlingit people in the Yukon Territories, and starts using it with program participants, staff, families, police, criminal justice agencies, community-based organizations and other community members. Roca becomes a key player in the restorative justice movement, advancing use of peacemaking circles in various settings.

1999

The Roca Community Building Team is launched to expand Coalition for Youth and Families work, including a youth- and parent-led Educational Organizing Campaign, and increasing work with parents and the newcomer community.

Roca begins to intentionally increase outreach to newcomer refugees – Bosnian, Somali, Moroccan, Sudanese, etc. Working with various communities, Roca’s Chelsea building regularly hosts seven active churches and one mosque.

The National Crime Prevention Council selects Roca Revere Leadership Program as one of three national “Best Practices”.

1998

pic-timeline-1998-mgh

Massachusetts General Hospital Healthcare Center partners with Roca to open a satellite health clinic for youth and young adults within the Roca Chelsea building, offering general health care, family planning, HIV/AIDS testing and STD testing.

Roca Healthy Families Program is established, significantly expanding Roca’s work with young parents through home visits, meetings and youth team.

1997

Family Education Project starts at the request of Chelsea parents, with ESL, GED, ABE, Citizenship and Computer classes.

1996

Roca purchases and moves into its current Chelsea building, a 21,000 square foot youth and community center, formerly an auto dealership.

1993

An AmeriCorps program, Youth STAR, begins, the first high-risk and first Cambodian youth-led service and conservation corps.

1992

The Roca Revere Leadership Program is established in a week’s time, in response to intra-Cambodian gang conflict and racial violence in Revere, MA.

1991

Roca starts with the Department of Public Health a program for HIV/AIDS prevention.

1988

Roca, Inc. is founded by Molly Baldwin in Chelsea, MA, operating as a part of North Suffolk Mental Health, and quickly becoming an independent organization. Following policy work that identified teen pregnancy as a major barrier that kept young people in poverty, Roca focuses on teen pregnancy prevention. From its first day, the program targets high-risk young men out of schools, gang members and high-risk young mothers.