Issue 2 | Fall 2016
Dear friends, partners and supporters,
This month marks 20 years in our building at 101 Park Street in Chelsea, I can hardly believe it! So much has changed, and in a funny way, so much has stayed the same. There’s no greater source of inspiration than all the brilliant young people who we’ve been privileged to meet here in the building, and continue to meet in the 21 communities we serve.
Roca’s new website, which we are launching now, will tell you about our history – and much more. We dive deep into our Intervention Model, share stories of our young people and our team, and give you more opportunities to get involved and connect. Check it out.
The fall is a good opportunity to look back at the fiscal year that just ended. In this issue of Roca Ink. we invite you to take a look at our outcomes report and the newly-released 2016 Annual Report, and explore the accomplishments of our brave young people. Josh, a Roca participant from Springfield and Kristen, an Educator in Boston, give us a glimpse of their past year as well.
We were so honored to be invited to the White House this month, and to be featured as one of the country’s major innovators in the National Institute of Justice’s Environmental Scan of Young Adult Justice, so we thought we’d share this news with you as well!
Finally, in this Issue we are honoring two of our long-standing partners. We thank Sheriff Michael J. Ashe of Hampden County, who is retiring soon, for his tremendous support of our work in Springfield. We also thank The Children Trust for their 18 years of partnership with us in running the Harbor Area Healthy Families Program. It is our deepest privilege to take this opportunity to thank them.
All the best,
Founder & CEO
2016: Growth, Change, Learning
981 young people walked through Roca’s doors this year. 16,613 times Roca’s Youth Workers met young men in person. 87% of graduates had no new arrests. These numbers, and many more stories, make up our 2016 Annual Report.
This year we devote our annual report to the risks that our young people take by choosing to change their lives, and the risks we are taking with them and with our partners. Roca is more focused than ever on the young people at the highest risk – young men and young mothers who are not yet ready, willing or able to participate in programming and change their lives.
At the end of this fiscal year, we are proud of their accomplishments. 711 high-risk young men were engaged in Roca’s Intervention Model, and even though they are not mandated to be with us and are not ready for change, 76% stayed with Roca. 270 young men were enrolled in our Transitional Employment Program, and learned hard and soft job skills. Of the 238 young men who completed the intensive two years of the model, 87% had no new arrests, and 88% held their jobs for 6 months or more.
Our young mothers’ program has grown a lot as well. 141 young mothers were served this year. We’ve placed 48 of them in jobs, and 94% of these young mothers held their job more than 6 months. Our Cognitive Behavioral Theory (CBT) curriculum was implemented this year both with our young mothers and our young men.
We invite you to read more about our close work with police departments, with employers and with other partners in the full 2016 Annual Report. For the data-savvy among you (we know you are there!), we also share our comprehensive Fiscal Year 2016 Performance Benchmarks and Outcomes Report. And of course, there’s even more on our website!
On the first day Josh walked into Roca, two years ago, he had no idea his life was about to change. Josh came to Roca after being released from jail where he had been locked up for two months and as a result lost his job and his apartment. He was struggling to get by and did not want to go back to the life he’d lived before. When he first came to Roca he thought he had it all figured out. He would go in and get a job and that would be it. This turned out to be just the beginning of what he would do with Roca and with his life.
First, Josh was assigned his youth worker, Pat. For a full month, Pat reached out to Josh every day and Josh would not respond, he didn’t trust him. After this month, Josh started to answer his calls and to talk to him. They began to grow their relationship. Now, Josh feels he is close with Pat, that they “have a good bond. We talk about things, we argue, sometimes he really pisses me off, but we get through it. We go out to eat, go to the movies. If I need anything, he’ll pick me up. He’s just always there.”
In addition to working with his Youth Worker, Josh has also participated in the Transitional Employment and other programming at Roca. He is working on his GED, has taken Cognitive Behavioral Theory (CBT) skills classes and has moved up to the Advanced Transitional Employment (ATE) crew at Roca, painting and renovating apartments. He is happy working with his hands. In the future, Josh would like to find a career working in construction or in landscaping. He wants a steady job, a house, possibly to attend college and one day his own business. We have no doubt that all of this is within his reach.
Teaching High School Education Anywhere and Everywhere
“Even if they’re not going to answer, it’s important that they know that I was on the other side of the door,” shares Kristen, Educator at Roca Boston. She doesn’t wait for young people to come to her HiSET classes – she goes out to them, relentlessly. “’Relentless Outreach’ means me knocking on the door, hearing them inside and just knowing that they know that I showed up for them.”
Kristen first read about Roca in a Springfield newspaper, and soon joined the Roca Chelsea team. From her first day, even before she figured out how the Model works, she loved it: “It was very clear that guys felt comfortable here, which automatically made me believe that what people were doing here was real.”
Soon after Roca Boston opened, Kristen joined the new team. One of her main challenges was teaching young men who had very high safety issues, due to their gang and street involvement. “I’ve taught at a hospital’s cafeteria, in libraries, one of the universities has a community room we can use, and also parks, coffee houses, restaurants – anywhere where they would feel comfortable.” When we ask why she works so hard to find new locations, Kristen explains: “The bottom line is that they are usually trapped in their house and if I can get them out of their house, they can actually do something productive.”
This format of “portable programming” is an innovative way to meet young people where they are, and accomplish whatever is possible for them, regardless of safety issues, regardless of educational level. Kristen carries in her backpack classes for all levels. “If they are really close to the test level, I push and I push and I push with them. I’m at their house multiple times a week whether they are answering or not because they are so close. If someone can’t type or read, I think, what do they need to get a job and hold a job? They need to be able to read instructions, they need to be able to type something, it’s about quality of life at that point.”
Kristen continues to help young men reach the finish line, one class at a time. In the past year 9 high-risk young people completed their HiSET tests with her, and she continues to teach classes wherever she can. “I’m not mad about the time you didn’t answer the door, I’m just trying to do what we’re trying to do today.”
Washington Recognizes Roca’s Innovations
The White House and the National Institute of Justice lead the way in exploring effective models for young adults in the justice systems – and highlight Roca as a pioneer in the field. The effort to rethink young adult justice is now a national movement.
My Brother’s Keeper (MBK), President Obama’s initiative to address persistent opportunity gaps faced by boys and young men of color and ensure that all young people can reach their full potential, hosted Roca at the White House this month. At a “What Works Showcase,” MBK featured 33 of the nation’s premier interventions and organizations working to achieve MBK’s goals. Roca was proud to be included as one of the evidence-based programs helping keeping kids on track and giving them second chances. Shannon, Adrian and Sulai from our Boston team represented Roca at this event.
The Environmental Scan of Developmentally Appropriate Criminal Justice Responses to Justice-Involved Young Adults is the most comprehensive national report on programs and interventions for young adults in the justice system. Published by the National Institute of Justice, the environmental scan found 66 programs targeted at this age group. Roca was highlighted as one of the most innovative programs in the country.
Roca is privileged to be featured in these important efforts to find evidence-based solutions for young adults in the justice system. We are inspired by the other programs featured, and hope that together we can help find effective ways to serve more communities and young people.
A Special Thank You: Healthy Families
For the past 18 years, Roca has had the privilege of partnering with The Children’s Trust, operating the Harbor Area Healthy Families Program. It was our honor to serve young families in the communities north of Boston through this tremendously important home visiting program.
Over 2,500 young families received Roca’s Healthy Families home visits since 1998. These home visits provided family support and coaching, which wrap around first-time parents and help them create stable, nurturing environments for their children.
Roca remains an avid supporter of the home visiting model. Our home visitors were privileged to meet so many young people in the years Roca hosted the Healthy Families program, and helped them develop parenting skills, overcome challenges and set personal goals.
We have learned, grown and developed in these 18 years of work with The Children’s Trust. Roca will continue to refer young mothers who are receptive to home visits to other Healthy Families providers in the area.
A Partner, A Leader: Thanking Retiring Sheriff Michael J. Ashe
You don’t need to be a Hampden County resident to know this Sheriff. For the past 41 years, Sheriff Michael J. Ashe has led the county to explore new ways to serve its residents. For Roca Springfield, Sheriff Ashe was there even before day one: giving advice, opening doors, leading by example.
Last month, Roca had the honor of hosting an event to thank Sheriff Ashe for all his work with us. In Roca’s 29 School St. building in Springfield – named after the Sheriff and his brother, Jay – Roca celebrated this event with partners and friends. Chris Judd, the Director of Roca Springfield, expressed what so many of us feel: “Roca Springfield is so blessed to have you in our corner… We can only hope our relationship with the Hampden County Sheriff’s Department continues to thrive for the next 41 years.”
And indeed, there’s a lot to be thankful for. Roca’s Intervention Model is based on close partnerships with criminal justice agencies, and the Sheriff Departments in each of our communities are lead partners. Sheriff Ashe was exactly the kind of partner we hope for wherever we go – cares deeply about the work, and was not afraid to find new ways to help young people change their lives. “He’s not just any sheriff, but one who would change the world,” Molly Baldwin said at the event, “He continues to learn and to lead in so many ways, and has helped so many people.”
Telling Our Story: New Animation Video, New Website
A couple of months ago we shared with you Roca’s 2-minute animation video, and today we add our new website. We hope they will help you learn more about the changes young people make at Roca every day.
In the past few months, we have been working on new ways to tell our story. We started with the Roca 101 animation video, with the nearly-impossible mission of capturing our Intervention Model and our daily work in two minutes. Planet Nutshell, a Cambridge-based animation studio, was our partner in this journey. Josh and his team spent time with us in circles, talked with young people, toured the building, and went to the drawing board. We’ve exchanged scripts, storyboards, designs and animations, and drove each other crazy until Andre and Eric were born. They feel so much a part of Roca, that we sometimes think we see them in the hallways!
Our new website was another opportunity to think about all of you – friends, partners and supporters of Roca. We asked ourselves what we need to do to make sure you have easily-accessible answers to all your questions about Roca. We wanted to bring to the front our young people and their accomplishments, and give you all the information you need – from financials, to data, to the latest news from Roca. Whether you’re new to Roca or have known us for years – you’re always welcome. Dive in!
Roca extends a special thank you to some generous donors for giving in this quarter!*
- Frank Reed and Margaret Jane Peters Memorial Fund I
- Highland Street Foundation
- James W. Rollins Charitable Trust
- The Kresge Foundation
- State Street Foundation
- Vertex Pharmaceuticals Inc.
- Yawkey Foundation
*All this in addition to the generous foundation, individual, and corporate support over the last quarter.