Roca Baltimore Study


Roca, Inc. delivers services to young men between the ages of 16 and 25 who are involved in the justice system and who are at a high risk of being incarcerated or reincarcerated. Roca uses a cognitive behavioral intervention model that aims to create behavioral change in such young men. Its four-year program starts with two years of intensive interaction with a young man to gradually promote behavior changes and engagement in the program, followed by two years focused on sustaining the positive changes in behavior achieved in the first two. The model’s ultimate goals are to reduce participants’ incarceration rates and increase their ability to retain employment.

Roca has been serving young men in the Massachusetts area for over 20 years. In 2018, it launched a replication program in Baltimore that will be the focus of MDRC’s evaluation. MDRC will conduct an implementation study and an outcome analysis. The research team will study the program’s implementation to understand how the program operates on the ground, how it has been adapted from the Massachusetts program, and how participants experience it. The team will also analyze the content and frequency of the services delivered. Finally, the research team will study participants’ outcomes in employment, criminal justice, and in-program achievements.

Agenda, Scope, and Goals

Roca’s program model has shown that it may improve criminal justice and employment outcomes in its program locations throughout Massachusetts. The results of this replication study will provide suggestive evidence about whether the Roca model is a promising approach in Baltimore, as well.

Design, Sites, and Data Sources

The implementation study will use a mixed-methods approach to assess services as they are planned and implemented, important partnerships, participant characteristics and experiences, and the program’s local context. Qualitative data will be collected over multiple visits to Roca Baltimore through semistructured interviews with Roca Baltimore staff members and partners, interviews with young men participating in the program, and observations of program services. Quantitative data about the characteristics of participants and their use of program services will also be collected from Roca’s management information system.

The outcomes study will assess Roca Baltimore participants' in-program, employment, and criminal justice outcomes. The data will come from program records and public administrative records.