- Who We Are
- What We Do
- Who We Work With
- Our Stories
- Training and Consulting
- News and Events
- Activities, Toolkits and Reports
- Online Communities
- Current Initiatives
- Contact Us
Community Group Builds Local Relationships to Help Troubled Youth
At Roca, a youth development organization in Chelsea, Massachusetts, one of the organizational mantras is “we’re running relationships, not programs.” Drawing on its eighteen year history, the staff has developed effective strategies for reaching vulnerable youth and functioning in a community responsibly.
The Innovation Center has partnered with Roca to surface and document its practices, and to provide tools and technical assistance. Two of the most exciting elements of Roca’s work that the Innovation Center staff has investigated and researched are the Engaged Institutions Strategy and Transformational Relationships.
Roca’s Engaged Institutions Strategy is an effective approach to building relationships with other organizations to address the multiple needs of youth in crisis and to enhance opportunities for their growth and development.
Meetings are scheduled weekly and bi-weekly with the Department of Social Services, probation and the police department, the Department of Youth Services, and the Chelsea school system. Representatives from these organizations talk about young adults who are shared between the agencies and ensure smooth intake of new participants.
Roca also facilitates a weekly group with inmates at the Suffolk County House of Correction and is working with the assistant deputy Superintendent to develop a re-entry process for young men and women returning to the community, taking lessons they have learned while incarcerated and using them for the greater good of their neighborhood.
By building transformational relationships Roca staff launch young people on the road to a healthy future. The relationships between staff members of Roca and each young person are taken quite seriously. In these relationships staff members push, pull, persuade, educate, support, stand beside and consistently show up in order to help the young person to learn to act in his or her own best interest. Roca staff members show up at all times of the day and night wherever youth might be- in their homes, on the streets, in court, or at school.
These intentional processes are carefully tracked, monitored, and, to the extent possible, planned. Staff members at Roca have ongoing check-ins and supervision regarding the status of relationships, and they are documented in a computer database in a manner that is transparent and accessible to other staff. The outcomes of this work are taken very seriously. Said one youth worker, “If I am not in the top three when [the youth] are asked to identify the nine most helpful people they know, I know something is wrong.”
For young people in crisis, transformational relationships catalyze a learning process that can lead to educational achievement, employment, and meaningful engagement in community and civic life.
For more information about implementing these strategies in your work, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or 301-270-1700.