Roca Baltimore, MD

Roca Baltimore, MD

Serving 100 young men from Baltimore since Summer 2018

880 Park Avenue
Baltimore, MD 21201
Phone: 443-439-4100


With so much violence in Baltimore, we all have a role to play in bringing about change. Roca’s role is small: focus on the young people who are in the throes of violence, the ones who are not ready for change yet. Our youth workers find them, knock on their doors relentlessly until they respond, build relationships, and bring them to Roca. We work with each one of them for four years until they build critical employment, education, and life skills, which help them build the safe life they want. We work with whoever we can to keep them safe, and use data and research to get better and prove that it works. We know change takes time, but we also know change is possible.


Nearly one year in, Roca is chipping away at juvenile crime in Baltimore

May 21, 2019

Even on a mucky Monday, there’s a certain joy within a work crew on Harlem Avenue in West Baltimore. The joy is in the work and in the road to redemption.


It’s time to change the narrative on Baltimore. There’s a lot worth celebrating.

May 16, 2019

It seems like years since Baltimore has gotten a break. From violence to corruption, we have read story after story that portray our city negatively…

FROM: Washington Post

The Tragedy of Baltimore

March 20, 2019

On April 27, 2015, Shantay Guy was driving her 13-year-old son home across Baltimore from a doctor’s appointment when something — a rock, a brick, she wasn’t sure what — hit her car…

FROM: NYT Magazine & ProPublica

Roca workers race against the clock to change violent Baltimore boys

March 1, 2019

A report by the Roca organization on its first six months in Baltimore reveals how persistence, a key ingredient of the program, might pay off. It also shows…

FROM: Baltimore Sun


Why Baltimore, Why Now

When we started working with young people in Massachusetts 30 years ago, we believed change was possible. In the 30 years that has passed, we’ve been working relentlessly to prove it. And now it’s our time to use what we’ve learned to help find a way out of violence, shootings, and so many unnecessary deaths.

I grew up in Baltimore and, like all of you, I am devastated by the loss of so many lives in the city. Whether we understand why, whether we like it or not, something has gone terribly wrong for so many of the young people in our country. Too many of them have learned that violence is the only way to live, that shooting gains respect, that guns are normal, and that dying young is just what happens.

It is a tremendous privilege to take part in some small way in reducing the violence in Baltimore. As you are so painfully aware, we can’t arrest or program our way out of this escalating violence – we need a different approach. And we believe it’s possible.

We have no illusions. We know that this work will be difficult and that change doesn’t happen overnight. And we know we have a lot to learn. But we also know that change is possible and that it would be an incredible privilege to be part of this change.

We are deeply inspired by so many in Baltimore who work so hard to bring about change – terrific organizations, committed people, public agencies, elected officials, businesses, foundations, and community leaders. We are honored to join these incredible efforts.

At Roca, we’ve been preparing for this moment for years. Now it’s our time to get to work. We hope to be worthy of this opportunity.

Molly Baldwin
Founder & CEO, Roca
July 2, 2018

Learn more about Roca’s Intervention Model

Roca’s Intervention Model is designed to help high-risk young men leave streets and gangs and go to work. Through relentless outreach, tailored programming and collaboration with community partners, Roca helps young men transform their lives.

Learn More

Kurtis Palermo

Kurtis Palermo

Director of Roca Baltimore

Kurtis (Kurt) is the Director of Program Operations and Employment of Roca Baltimore. Before relocating to Baltimore Kurt served as the Assistant Director at Roca Springfield in Massachusetts. Prior to Roca, Kurt was the Recreation Director for a summer youth program in Northampton, MA as well as serving as both an Assistant and Head Wrestling Coach at Belchertown High School.

In February 2013 Kurt began with Roca through an AmeriCorps fellowship program and eventually transitioned into numerous roles at Roca Springfield. He is highly committed to working with community and criminal justice partners, and local organizations in order to best serve young people.  Kurt is devoted to his work with young people and understands that change is possible.

Kurt earned his M.S. in Organizational Leadership from Southern New Hampshire University and his B.A. in Political Science from the University of North Carolina Charlotte.

James Timpson

James Timpson

Director of Safety and Community Partnerships, Roca Baltimore

James (JT) is the Director of Youth Work and Crisis Intervention for Roca Baltimore. In his last role as Liaison Officer for Safe Streets Baltimore he was responsible for providing oversight and technical assistance to the directors of five community Safe Streets sites. JT is the former Site Director for Safe Streets Park Heights in Baltimore.

While Director, JT led a staff of six Outreach Workers/Violence Interrupters in preventing and reducing homicides in Baltimore’s Northwest District. Prior to joining Safe Streets, JT worked in the Mayor’s Office of Baltimore City for over 12 years in different capacities, such as Assistant Director of The Mayor’s Office of Employment Development’s Re-Entry Center.  There the focus of his work was helping ex-offenders transition back into society.  In his last position as an Investigator for The Mayor’s Office on CitiStat, he was responsible for improving the quality of life for the citizens of Baltimore by responding to complaints and ensuring they were resolved in a timely fashion.

Leyla Layman

Leyla Layman

Director of Policy and Evaluation, Roca Baltimore

Prior to joining Roca, Leyla brings over ten years of experience in program management, creating successful teams, and coordinating City and State governmental agencies, as well as community stakeholders.

Most recently, Leyla served as the Chief Operating Officer for Young Audiences of Maryland.  Her prior roles include serving as Deputy Director for the Mayor’s Office on Criminal Justice where she oversaw Baltimore City’s juvenile justice strategy.  She also served as Director of the Baltimore City Health Department’s Office of Youth Violence Prevention which housed the Safe Streets Initiative. Leyla has focused her career on helping to improve the outcomes of children and young adults in Maryland.

Leyla received her Bachelor’s degree in Human Development and Psychological Services from Northwestern University.

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