pyj_medal_goldRoca — Chelsea and Springfield, MA. Relationship building is central to engaging youth in positive roles and productive social activities. Youth development interventions are unlikely to be effective without a strong focus on social development. A Boston area initiative called Roca, Incorporated, addresses the needs of low-income and/or immigrant youth who are at risk for involvement in criminal justice, gangs, youth pregnancy, or school attrition.

pyj_rocapic1The program focuses on relationships between young people and their families. Roca uses a High-Risk Youth Intervention Model that employs sustained relationships to support young people in believing that education, employment, and civic responsibility are valid pursuits in the struggle to resist cycles of impoverishment and community violence.

The Roca motto is “Truth, Trust & Transformation.” All three rely on strong relationship ties. Young people are engaged in dialogue about their own challenges and those faced by their communities. Over time, trust is established between young people. Intensive mentoring leads to a new way of life supported by new competencies and skills, academic development, and eventual employment.

Evaluation studies demonstrate that ninety-six percent of program graduates maintain pro-social relationships with adults, ninety-eight percent avoid recidivism, and eighty-four percent continue their education or are employed.

The Mission and Approach of Roca