Homeboy Industries: Changing Lives and Creating Opportunity in East Los Angeles
I really wanted to attend the Homeboy Industries and teen substance abuse interventions panel at JMATE, but didn't make it to the session. So I missed learning about Homeboy Industries' Project STAR program that works with recently released juveniles with a history of the substance abuse. They offer in-house, trauma-informed treatment that is sensitive to the unique needs of formerly gang-involved youth. Mental health services are a central part of the program, as are job trainings and academic and life skills classes.
Started as an alternative to gang violence in Los Angeles, Homeboy Industries trains and hires at-risk, recently released and former gang involved young people with the goals of transforming troubled youth into productive members of their communities. They provide free counseling, education, tattoo removal, substance abuse and addiction assistance, job training and job placement services.
Fast Company has a terrific piece on Homeboy Industries, its founder (Father Gregory Boyle) and the key people in charge of running the nonprofit.
Father Gregory Boyle moved to East Los Angeles 26 years ago, and began walking and biking the neighborhood. He became friendly with the community and even visited gang members in the hospital. And one day, he realized that he could help residents escape the pervasive cycle of violence.
From the article:
It occurred to Boyle during those rides that the biggest problem facing his community was the lack of work--especially for young men who had spent time in prison--and, by extension, a pervasive sense of hopelessness. So he started looking for jobs for the men. When he couldn’t find nearly enough, he decided to create some. In 1992, with a large donation from a movie producer, Boyle took over a small, shuttered bakery and founded Homeboy Industries.
The piece goes on to explain how Homeboy Industries has changed 100s of lives, from convicts to the CEO of a mega-construction company. It's an inspiring example of how one man is changing Los Angeles while bringing opportunity to troubled teens and former convicts.
Liz Wu is a Digital Accounts Manager at Prichard Communications, where she oversees digital outreach for Reclaiming Futures and edits Reclaiming Futures Every Day. Before joining the Prichard team, Liz established the West Coast communications presence for the New America Foundation, where she managed all media relations, event planning and social media outreach for their 6 domestic policy programs. Liz received a B.A. in both Peace and Conflict Studies and German from the University of California at Berkeley. She tweets from @LizSF.
*Photo at top by Flickr user TravelingMan