Alumna Molly Baldwin ’83, founder and CEO of Roca, is a 2020 recipient of the prestigious Heinz Award from the Heinz Family Foundation. Baldwin received her award in the category of The Human Condition. As part of the accolade, she will receive an unrestricted cash award of $250,000.
Since founding Roca in 1988, Baldwin has remained focused on a mission to disrupt cycles of incarceration, urban violence and poverty in the lives of young adults – primarily young men of color between the ages of 18 and 24 – who are not ready, willing or able to participate in other programs. Roca seeks out young people who could benefit from its program and provides them the educational, employment and emotional regulation skills they need to change their life trajectories. The program incorporates cognitive behavioral therapy; a focus on building trust, safety and relationships; employment skills practice and long-term coaching. Roca was founded in Chelsea, Mass., more than 32 years ago and has since spread to more than 20 communities across the commonwealth. In 2018, Roca also launched in Baltimore, Md.
Roca also supports young women, many of whom are young mothers who have been unwilling or unable to participate in standard support programs. Roca’s women’s program includes services for childcare and transportation, as well as additional intensive, mental health and domestic violence modules.
“For 30 years, Molly has persisted in serving young people who are the hardest to reach, and whose traumatic life experiences could put them on the path to a lifetime of poverty, unemployment or incarceration,” said Teresa Heinz, chair of the Heinz Family Foundation. “Where others have given up, Roca steps in, and stays in. The model that she has helped create demonstrates that the hard work of building trust and disrupting old patterns of thinking can change behavior and enable what every human being should be afforded: a life that is free of fear, lifted by hope, and anchored by opportunity. Roca’s enduring and meaningful impact on young lives beautifully reflects the spirit of the Heinz Awards.”
Established to honor the memory of U.S. Senator John Heinz, the Heinz Awards recognize those who have made a significant contribution in five distinct areas of great importance to Senator Heinz: arts and humanities, environment, the human condition, public policy, and technology, the economy and employment. Now in its 25th year, the Heinz Award has recognized 151 individuals and has awarded more than $30 million to the honorees.