ROCA Celebrates 25 Years of Changing Lives of Troubled Youth in a Positive Way

Attending the breakfast were from left City manager Jay Ash, Suffolk County Sheriff Steven Tompkins, Suffolk District Attorney Daniel Conley and Chelsea Police Chief Brian Kyes.

Attending the breakfast were from left City manager Jay Ash, Suffolk County Sheriff Steven
Tompkins, Suffolk District Attorney Daniel Conley and Chelsea Police Chief Brian Kyes.

Gov. Deval Patrick joined more than 350 state policymakers and business and civic leaders on Monday to honor Roca’s 25 years of transforming the lives of high-risk youth in Massachusetts and looking ahead to the nonprofit’s key role in the state’s first-in-the-nation pay for success financing initiative.

In his keynote address, Patrick highlighted Roca’s contributions to the state and its developing partnership with the state on his Social Innovation Financing effort to transform how government funds successful social and human service efforts.

“I’m proud of the work you do and the examples you set for people changing their destiny,” Patrick said at the Seaport Hotel breakfast event. “It’s essentially a way to pay for success. We’re going to pay for the work they do in not giving up on people.”

Patrick noted that Secretary of Administration and Finance Glen Shor, who also attended the event, is working with Roca and others to implement the innovative financing and success-based effort.

“We are thrilled and honored to be the first to work with the Patrick administration to create a true pay-for-success model,” said Roca founder and Executive Director Molly Baldwin. “We are committed in our fight to help young people stay out of prison and succeed at work.”

“Molly Baldwin’s impact on youth development and public safety over the last 25 years has been immense,” said Jay Ash after Monday’s breakfast. “She is a recognized leader not only here in Chelsea but throughout the cuntry and world.  We’ve been fortunate to have her working on our behalf all this past time.  She’s an inspiration to me and many others.”

Suffolk County District Attorney Dan Conley  who attened the breakfast said, “Our partnership with ROCA is built on the idea that every prosecutor would rather see a young person diverted away from criminal behavior than appear before us in court.  ROCA’s work in Boston and Suffolk County has helped turn countless troubled kids and teens into adults who embrace and enhance their communities.  They deserve every word of praise and every ounce of support they’ve gotten through the years.”

The event also featured the compelling stories of two young men – Eric Rodriguez and Sammy Argueta – who have benefited from Roca’s effective data-driven intervention model for the highest-risk young people in Boston, Chelsea, Revere and Springfield. Rodriguez was one of the first participants in the Roca program and is now a successful businessman and mentor to young people.

Argueta, a Chelsea native, was helped by Roca’s transitional employment program after he served time in jail. He is this year’s recipient of the Vichey Phoung Peace Award, which recognizes a Roca youth leader who has demonstrated substantial positive change in his or her life and serves as a role model to other young people.

“My story can help inspire other people. Growing up in a tough neighborhood like Chelsea was hard. I grew up with no one to look up to,” said Argueta. “Transitional employment helps young men like myself get back to work. For the past year and a half, I have been working at 60 State Street setting up for events. I can now provide for my family. I’m proud of where my life is headed.”

Rodriguez credits Baldwin with saving his life and the lives of others that he might have hurt. Rodriguez told the story of how Baldwin’s friendship and guidance stopped him from taking out vengeance on the person who shot his friend and another person who had stabbed Rodriguez.

“There was such frustration in my head,” Rodriguez said. “Molly actually showed up at my house. She talked me off the ledge. After that conversation, she saved my life and perhaps the lives of others. That was a turnaround moment for me. I was a changed person.”

This fiscal year, Roca will help transform the lives and behaviors of 100 young men like Rodriguez and Argueta through its three-phase intervention program. The model includes rigorous outreach and case-management with lessons in life-skills, pre-job training and transitional employment.

For more information on Roca, its efforts and pay-for-success efforts, please visit

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