Issue 16  |  Spring 2024

Dear Friends,

This spring, all of Roca across three states came together to reflect on, refine, and strengthen our four core values: serving others with empathy, love, and hope; prioritizing safety in every action and decision; healing and empowering young people; and building trust through support and accountability.

Those values guide us to relentlessly focus on young people at the highest-risk of violence—those who struggle with trauma, are highly vulnerable, and at times highly volatile. We must act with urgency to get them out of harm’s way, and never give up, even when they slam the door in our face.

Our young people have grown up with the trauma of violence all around them—in the communities we serve, it’s often easier for young people to get a gun than a healthy meal. Breaking the cycle of violence takes incredible strength, and each young person has to take their own road to get there.

It is a sacred privilege to guide young people on their journeys, and to share some of their stories with you. Beyond the painful realities of their lives, we witness their extraordinary courage and help them grow. How lucky are we?

In Peace and Solidarity,

Molly Baldwin
Founder and CEO

Roca’s Voices


Big changes are made up of small victories: one more gun dropped, one more day sober, one more trip to work on time and back home safe. One at a time, young people are learning to overcome their trauma and make the right choices, and all those individual stories add up to the powerful outcomes Roca is known for.

Watch three of those stories on our new Voices page: meet a brave young man who lived through too much, too young; go for a ride with a Roca Youth Worker; and learn from a former cop who now teaches police the same skills we teach young people, Rewire CBT.

Hear Their Stories

In the News


Turning Tragedy Into ‘A Blessing’: Roca Helps Baltimore’s Young Shooting Survivors
Roca’s “after-shooting protocol” seeks to reach each 16-to-24-year-old nonfatal shooting victim in Baltimore.
Read in the Baltimore Sun

Tale of Two Cities: What DC Could Learn from Baltimore’s Crime Reduction Approach
Baltimore saw historic decline in homicides in 2023 while DC saw historic spike. Investigative Reporter Tracee Wilkins traveled up Interstate 95 to talk to experts working on the frontlines to make a difference.
Watch on NBC4

From the Streets to the Boardroom

Fireside Chat with Larry Miller

Larry Miller literally wrote the book on redemption. As a teenager in West Philly, he was a lot like the high-risk young people who Roca serves. He became deeply involved with gangs and urban violence at a young age, and ended up in prison more than once. Education transformed his life, and he climbed to the top of the corporate world, eventually running Nike’s Jordan Brand—but he kept his past a secret until 2022, when he released his tell-all memoir, JUMP, My Secret Journey from the Streets to the Boardroom.

On May 3, Miller joined us at Roca’s Annual Breakfast for a fireside chat with MA Lieutenant Governor Kim Driscoll. Larry shared his story to show young people that a safe, successful future is possible, no matter what they’ve done in their pasts.

Hot off the Press

Roca Proven to Keep Young Men Out of Jail

A recent evaluation by Abt Associates showed that Roca is effective at keeping young men from going back to prison. After 3 years, only 37% of our young men in Massachusetts were re-incarcerated, 30% lower than the MA average—even though we work with the highest-risk young people in the state. The report suggests that Roca’s long-term intervention model is a key to our success: we stick with each young person through their ups and downs over 4 years, while other programs are only short-term.

Read the Report

Participant Spotlight

Meet Justin Fowlkes

Justin faced constant obstacles and setbacks as he grew up in Baltimore. He was street-involved from a young age, and was shot at just 21 years old. Justin had barely gotten home from the hospital before Roca showed up on his doorstep, offering services that would get him stabilized and out of harm’s way. COVID restrictions didn’t stop us from supporting Justin through his recovery and starting him on the road to profound change; since Justin couldn’t come to Roca, we brought Roca’s programming to Justin, meeting virtually and outside in the community.

In his three years at Roca Baltimore, Justin has made remarkable progress, and his positive attitude shines through. He used to jump from job to job when he felt like his supervisors were targeting him, but the CBT skills he learned at Roca helped him see things from a different perspective, stop taking things personally, and stick it out. He persevered, and achieved his HVAC Certification with an EPA Universal License. Now he’s the supervisor at the Housing Commission of Anne Arundel County, MD.

Justin lives by the motto “things could be worse” and always remains grateful for the good things in his life, like singing “Never Too Much” by Luther Vandross with his son, or having nail dates with his daughter and fiancé.

Justin is a 2024 recipient of Roca’s Vichey Phoung Peace Award, which recognizes Roca participants who, through their hard work and determination, have achieved substantial positive change in their lives, exemplifying the transformation which Roca seeks to bring about in all of the young people it serves.

Under Construction

Behind-the-Scenes at Roca’s Flagship Site

In Chelsea, Roca has been stripped to the studs. Thanks to generous support from individual donors and the State of Massachusetts, renovations are underway and moving quickly at our flagship site.

Roca’s headquarters is more than a building—it is the launching pad for everything that Roca has accomplished and become, and a place of hope for the countless young people whose lives have been transformed there.

Tag along with Joe, Director of Roca Chelsea, as he helps us envision a more beautiful, functional, and welcoming space for Greater Boston’s youth emerging from under the rubble.

Learn a Rewire CBT Skill


Trauma keeps young people stuck in survival mode, so they keep repeating the same harmful behaviors. That’s why we use Rewire CBT, a relatable and simple version of cognitive-behavioral theory that helps young people heal from trauma by rewiring their brains.

The 7 Rewire CBT skills help young people understand the relationship between what they think and say in their heads, what they feel in their bodies, and what they do in response. They learn to identify negative patterns, pause, and make a choice before they act.

Rewire CBT Skill #3: Move It

When every day is a struggle just to survive, feelings of depression and hopelessness can become overwhelming. Sometimes our young people struggle to even get out of bed, let alone go to work or care for their children. But if they stay stuck, they will have even less energy over time, and moving forward will only get harder.

“Move It” means doing something that gives you energy, especially when you don’t feel like doing anything. Whether it’s taking a walk, working out, or even just taking a shower—if young people commit to doing something every single day, they can start to feel better over time. Eventually the barriers that used to keep them inside might not seem so overwhelming anymore, and they can begin moving forward.

“CBT helped me keep control while I was in prison. And when I got out, I kept using my CBT skills. They helped me realize my mistakes, realize when I was doing things that were bad.”


We’re Hiring


Roca is looking for excellent candidates who are committed to helping young people at the center of urban violence transform their lives. We are hiring for several positions in Baltimore MD, Hartford CT, and across Massachusetts, including:

  • Youth Workers to engage the highest-risk young people in transformational relationships to drive behavior change.
  • Education & Workforce Readiness Instructors to engage young people in education and work force readiness programming to help them successfully enter the workforce.
  • Roca Hartford Program Manager to help oversee our young women’s program in CT and ensure our participants are moving toward positive outcomes.
  • SNAP Outreach Worker to ensure that every participant across Massachusetts receives the food assistance they need.

And many more! Visit our jobs page for all openings.

If you’re excited by Roca’s mission and think one of these jobs would fit you well, we invite you to apply or forward the job listings to a friend.