Baltimore Mayor Catherine E. Pugh announced this month a $17 million public-private partnership with Roca, anchor business institutions and philanthropic organizations to help Baltimore’s highest risk young people disrupt cycles of poverty and incarceration.
Roca is a Massachusetts-based group that has earned national recognition for providing some of the most innovative and effective interventions for young adults most at risk for committing or becoming a victim of violence.
The program currently operates in four sites in Massachusetts (Boston, Chelsea, Lynn, Springfield) and will replicate its model in Baltimore City.
“This is a very special announcement for me because we believe the approach to violence reduction is holistic, and we want to be inclusive in our approach to reducing the violence that exists in our city,” said Mayor Pugh. “Roca is not just a program that focuses in on individuals between the ages of 17-24, it is an intense focus that helps young people move beyond violence and into the types of job training, and personal development that leads them to become more productive members of our community.”
The significant new partnership will join other efforts to proactively engage high-risk youth in the City of Baltimore, and to reduce recidivism for those who have already encountered the criminal justice system. It will be funded by a combination of private and public dollars raised by Roca and the City of Baltimore, with a request for State funding still pending.
“We are humbled by the incredible efforts in the city to bring about change,” said Roca founder and CEO, Molly Baldwin. “At Roca, we are painfully aware that we can neither arrest nor program our way out of the violence devastating this city and that we need a different approach. We are so grateful for the invitation to help and we know we have a lot to learn as we initiate our work in Baltimore.”
Currently, Roca serves over 1,000 high-risk young people in 21 communities in Massachusetts and has been preparing to work in Baltimore for the past five years. Roca plans to serve 75 young people in Baltimore during its first year and gradually increase its services to 300 young people annually over the next three years.
Roca will begin operations in Baltimore during Summer 2018. An intensive planning process already is underway.