Molly Baldwin, Founder and CEO of Roca, Inc. Receives Prestigious 25th Annual Heinz Award

On Nov. 19, Molly Baldwin was awarded the prestigious 25th Annual Heinz Award in recognition of the founding, leadership and outstanding results of Roca Inc.

Baldwin is recognized for Roca’s proven work in changing the lives of young people considered to be the hardest to reach, including those who have suffered as a result of poverty, gang involvement and violent crime and who cannot be connected with through school, work or traditional programs. Roca is a highly effective intervention program that provides relentless outreach to young people impacted by traumatic experiences at the center of urban violence.

Since founding Roca in 1988 in Chelsea, MA, Baldwin has remained focused on a mission to disrupt cycles of incarceration, urban violence and poverty in the lives of young adults. She has worked to seek out young people who could benefit from its program and provide them the educational, employment and emotional regulation skills they need to change their life trajectories.

Established by Teresa Heinz in 1993 to honor the memory of her late husband, U.S. Senator John Heinz, the Awards celebrate the accomplishments and spirit of the Senator by recognizing the extraordinary achievements of individuals in five areas of greatest importance to him. The areas are Arts and Humanities, Environment, Human Condition, Public Policy, and Technology, the Economy and Employment.

Administered by the Heinz Family Foundation, the award bestowed to Baldwin is in the area of Human Condition. Nominations are submitted by an anonymous Council of Nominators and are reviewed by Jurors appointed by the Heinz Family Foundation. Award recipients are ultimately selected by the Board of Directors.

Collectively, the 2020 Heinz Award honorees represent the vision, creativity and determination that produce achievements of lasting good and meaningful impact, which the Heinz Awards hopes to inspire. Diverse past honorees include: Marian Wright Edelman, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, C. Everett Koop, Steve Wozniak, Freeman Hrabowski III and Baldwin’s own early cherished mentors, Luis Acosta and Francis Lucerna.

“Roca believes and has seen that change is possible for every young adult, regardless of past history, if we are relentless in engaging with them, in providing the right intensive supports and when we never, ever give up on them, particularly when they fail.”

Molly Baldwin, Founder and CEO, Roca Inc.

Roca Inc. Fact Sheet

• Roca focuses on building trust, safety and relationships; employment skills practice; and long-term coaching.

• Because the young men and women served by Roca have already experienced a lifetime of trauma, building a foundation of transformational relationships from which change can begin takes time.

• Roca workers go directly to young people in crisis, with relentless outreach, tracking them down through friends, scouting the streets, and showing up on their doorsteps.

• Roca’s programs incorporate cognitive behavioral theory (CBT); a behavioral therapy approach tailored to effect change in the young people the organization serves – transient, inconsistent and resistant.

• Roca’s trauma-informed curriculum and intervention program takes four years to complete, giving participants the freedom to repeatedly practice, relapse and repeat, even as they are challenged to change their thinking and to become accountable for their own lives.

• Roca engages the institutions impacting young people’s lives and forms productive relationships within them. Engaged institutions, including police and justice systems, provide exponential value in keeping vulnerable young people on a safe life trajectory.

• The Roca model is in place in more than 20 communities across Massachusetts and two years ago, Roca launched in Baltimore. It is cited nationally as a successful, evidence-based model for youth intervention that delivers measurable, sustained outcomes.

• A third-party evaluation of 978 young men served by Roca Massachusetts between 2013 and 2018 found that only 34% recidivated within three years. And while almost 75% of young men come to Roca with a violent criminal record, four out of five stopped engaging in violent crime during and after their engagement with the organization. As of 2019, 97% of young men enrolled in Roca for more than 24 months had no new incarcerations.

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