Roca receives $2 million U.S. Justice Department award

Top U.S. Justice Department officials last week joined local partners and leaders at Roca Baltimore to announce significant new funding to expand the number of young men Roca serves in Baltimore, deepen Roca’s non-fatal shooting victims in the city and potentially expand Roca’s work to other parts of the region impacted by violence and trauma.

The $2 million grant to Roca is part of a national violence intervention grant announcement from the Department of Justice’s Community Based Violence Intervention and Prevention Initiative. The grants include a total of $100 million in funding to organizations around the country, including two others in Baltimore.

Kurtis Palermo, Executive Vice President of Roca Maryland, spoke at the press briefing, thanking Baltimore and the region for welcoming the creation of Roca Baltimore four years ago and noting the announcement of funding for this expansion comes on the very day of Roca Baltimore’s first “graduation” of its first cohort of four-year participants.

“We know the level of trauma is great, and the level of violence in our community is often debilitating to even think about – but we are having an impact and we are committed to staying in the work here, expanding our efforts and never giving up on these young people,” said Palermo. “Today’s announcement and the progress made by these young people finishing their four years in our program is a shining example of that.”

“There are no quick fixes but we know that if we heal the trauma, we free the person and, in doing so, can help them change the trajectory of their lives,” said Roca Founder & CEO Molly Baldwin. “We are grateful that the Justice Department, Attorney General Garland, and President Biden and his administration are validating the efficacy of our work and  investing in powerful interventions here and all around the country.”

With the federal grant, Roca hopes to expand the number of young men it works with intensively in Baltimore from 200 per year to 250 per year. It also hopes to expand the reach of its work to serve an estimated 60 to 80 young men per year who are driving violence in communities outside of Baltimore City. 

“We draw no direct link between our work and a reduction in killings on the streets among the young people we serve, but the number of young people engaged by Roca Baltimore together with unprecedented coordination with Baltimore Police, Department of Juvenile Services and Parole & Probation is having an impact,” said Baldwin. 

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