Molly Baldwin, CEO of Roca, released the following statement pertaining to the City Council’s discussion about ROCA at Monday night’s meeting:
In the last meeting of the Chelsea City Council, questions were raised about Roca’s transparency and city resources spent on helping high-risk young people served by Roca. It is Roca’s honor to work with the Chelsea City Council, and as has been our history, we wanted to respond fully and transparently to these reasonable but misguided questions.
Roca has proudly opened its doors to multiple levels of program evaluation and is nationally recognized for using the highest standards of data tracking and analysis available. Requests for program outcomes and organizational performance, from city leaders, partners or the community are always answered by full transparency.
Roca has served young people in Chelsea for 28 years and, this October, we will celebrate 20 years in our current location on Park Street. In the past year, 218 young Chelsea residents were served by Roca, and in addition, Roca is conducting outreach to over 100 young people. About half of the young people we’ve served this year are very high risk young men and the rest are young mothers, most of whom are high risk as well. We are privileged to know and work with each one of these young members of our community. They join thousands of young people we’ve been privileged to help through the years.
Roca is known in Chelsea, in the state and nationally for being relentless. We focus on the highest risk young people and invite them to participate in their own lives. We believe that, with relentless outreach to each young person, meaningful relationships between our staff and our participants, and programming that is tailored specifically for this tough-to-serve population, these young people too can succeed. We don’t only believe in it, we know it for a fact. In the past decade, we became a data-driven organization which tracks and analyzes everything we do. Our numbers show that after the first intensive two years with Roca, 93 percent of our young men don’t get rearrested and 87 percent hold a job for six months or more. This is a great benefit for each one of them and also for our city.
As a longstanding member of the community, Roca has partnered with the City of Chelsea in various ways through the years. The city currently funds a work contract for Roca’s Transitional Employment Program, in which young people learn how to work while cleaning the streets of Chelsea. A second city budget item is allocated as back-up for state funding to the Chelsea Police Department and Roca in the event that the state’s project funds are delayed or cut. Roca’s ongoing efforts to raise additional non-city funds from the government and private funders have borne fruit, and Roca is successful in leveraging substantial resources to Chelsea’s young people. However, these sources alone cannot substitute local support for our city’s young people.
Roca is proud to be part of Chelsea, serves hundreds of its young people and employs many city residents. Chelsea is Roca’s home in the deepest sense. Our city’s young people deserve support from their community as they choose to change their lives. Roca will continue to work with each one of these young people, with the city in which they reside and with the City Council, to offer them and our community a safe and thriving place to live.