The prize, awarded to individuals who implement programs to improve the human condition, honors Molly’s success in developing an effective intervention model that transforms the lives of young people affected by trauma.
“Molly’s perseverance comes from her passion to help people and from a deep belief that if Roca goes away, no one will look after the beautiful young people who need us,” the Roca team said in a statement. “Molly is humbly grateful to them for giving us the privilege of their trust and the model of their courage.”
For more than 32 years, Roca has actively sought out and engaged with high-risk young adults – primarily young men of color aged 18 to 24 years old – to provide education, employment, and emotional regulation skills that help them recover from traumatic experiences.
Since its founding in Chelsea, Massachusetts, in 1988, the program has grown to include more than 20 communities throughout Massachusetts and Baltimore, where it is committed to disrupting dangerous cycles of urban poverty, violence, and incarceration. Roca also provides resources, like transportation and childcare, for young mothers who are not well-served by standard support systems.
Molly’s well-earned Heinz Award celebrates these accomplishments and more, highlighting Roca’s trauma-informed curriculum and four-year intervention program.
“In receiving this prestigious award, Molly immediately turned the honor to us – her colleagues – saying that this award is our award,” the Roca team said in a statement. “But we all know Roca wouldn’t be where it is today without her extraordinary compassion, uncommon vision, and countless hours of devotion.”
Named for late U.S. Senator John Heinz, the Heinz Awards recognize phenomenal contributions to the fields Heinz cared about most. Now in their 25th year, the Heinz Awards also include categories for Arts and Humanities, Public Policy, and Environment.
Two of Molly’s early mentors, Luis Garden Acosta and Frances Lucerna, were previously recognized in the Human Condition category, and she is “especially touched” to have followed in their footsteps.
Please join us in congratulating Molly and the entire team at Roca!