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CCT Client Profile: Roca

 

Organization: RocaName: Molly Baldwin, Founder and CEOMission:  Help disengaged and disenfranchised young people move out of violence and povertyLocation(s):  Chelsea and Springfield, MA; expansion plans in and out-of-state 

Please tell us what your organization does.

Roca helps young people between the ages of 17 and 24 move out of poverty and violence. We do this through relentless outreach to first engage them and develop transformative relationships with them. Our model is based on the stages of behavior change, in order to get young people ready, willing, and able to participate in programming around life skills, education and employment.

What are you best known for?

In addition to relentless outreach and relationship building, we are also known for using data like crazy. We use it to find and understand the young people we want to help. We use it to keep learning about what works and what doesn’t, and the level of effort that is required. In part because of this analytical rigor, we were recently chosen to pilot a first-in-the-nation Social Innovation Financing Project in the area of juvenile justice. It is a “pay for success” model, where Massachusetts will pay for reduced incarceration rates among high risk young men formerly involved with the justice system. This will allow us to reach more young people in need, and success with this model will also benefit taxpayers. It is an enormous privilege to be a part of this effort.

What challenges did Community Consulting Teams (CCT) help you resolve?

Well, first off, we have actually engaged CCT twice. For our first engagement, Roca was at a point where we had proven our model in Chelsea, and we had started to expand by opening a second site in Springfield. Broadening our reach was (and still is) a key objective but we wanted to be smart about how to do it. CCT helped us develop an expansion strategy and toolkit. We can now identify and prioritize new sites in a way that both maximizes our impact and is in line with our mission, capabilities and constraints. 

Why did you choose to engage CCT specifically for help?

We thought outside expertise was important in order to avoid our own set of internal biases. We heard about CCT through our network. The alternative was hiring an expert in nonprofit scaling, but we liked the breadth of real world experience inherent in CCT teams. We had folks on our CCT team with years of experience in strategy and operations from a range of different organizations. The diversity of perspective that comes with a CCT team would be hard to recreate.

Describe how CCT worked with your organization.

CCT helped us hone in on a clear set of objectives and how we would achieve them during the 5-6 months of working together. The CCT team had its homework and we had ours. We came together regularly either via phone or live meetings, and we also engaged our Board during this process. One of the things the CCT team did was talk to a range of other organizations that had faced similar expansion decisions. This insight was invaluable.

What happened as a result of CCT’s involvement?

CCT helped us codify an approach to scaling our organization. We now have a toolkit to help us decide where, when and how to expand. We are clear on the population we want to serve, and how best to reach them. We will have another site in Boston this year, and we are planning additional out of state sites.

Tell me about your second engagement with CCT?

Yes! So our first engagement helped us clarify our model. And now we are expanding and the new pay for performance project is ratcheting up our profile. As an organization, we are crystal clear on what we want to do. But we don’t feel like our brand and communications are quite there. CCT is helping us think through our brand critically, which is incredibly important as we expand.

What was most notable to you about your engagement with CCT?

It is really the diversity of real world experience that CCT teams bring. Each team we have worked with has had individuals from a variety of backgrounds, all with valuable and different perspectives. This is not something you can go out and buy – or at least not very easily. I think it results in strong, rich recommendations.

Is there anything you would like to tell prospective nonprofits?

Nonprofits need to be clear on what they want to accomplish during an engagement with CCT. Think this through carefully upfront. And then, the more you engage with your CCT team, the greater the gift.