Serving Young Men in Baltimore at the Center of Violence

Findings from a Descriptive Evaluation of Roca Baltimore

By Lily Freedman, Megan Millenky, Farhana Hossain

Roca is a nonprofit organization that works with young people at the center of violence. For 35 years, it has operated in communities across Massachusetts. In 2018, it brought its well-regarded program model to Baltimore in 2018 as a part of the city’s efforts to reduce violent crimes. Roca identifies and engages young men who are involved in the criminal legal system and those who are at high risk of participating in gun violence or being affected by it. Roca’s program model, grounded in promoting cognitive behavioral change among its participants, seeks to address the traumatic experiences and barriers to opportunities that these young men have faced. The program’s ultimate goals are to reduce participants’ involvement with the criminal legal system and increase their ability to retain employment.

This brief, the third and last in a series of publications from MDRC’s evaluation of the program, assesses the extent to which Roca identified and engaged its target population, through an analysis of data on participants’ demographics; their histories of trauma, employment, education, and involvement in the criminal legal system; and their current involvement in the criminal legal system. The current brief supplements these analyses with some of the evaluation’s previously published qualitative findings.

Freedman, Lily, Megan Millenky, and Farhana Hossain. 2023. “Serving Young Men in Baltimore at the Center of Violence.” New York: MDRC.