In 1988, Father Greg Boyle got sick of burying young men and women gunned down by gangs on the streets of Los Angeles. But what would fix the persistent gang violence? Boyle believed giving hope and providing jobs for the gang members would change everything.
Now, almost 30 years later, he runs what has become the largest gang intervention, rehabilitation and re-entry program in the United States, Homeboy Industries.
Originally called Jobs for a Future, Homeboy Industries started as small programs like alternative school, day care and job assistance for gang-involved youth.
“We have learned in that time that jobs are probably about 80 percent of what these folks need to redirect their lives,” the website states. “The other 20 percent is a mixture of therapeutic and support services. So, in addition to paying men and women to receive job training, we also require that they spend part of their working day here working on themselves. We offer education, therapy, tattoo removal, substance abuse treatment, legal assistance and job placement services.”
After the Los Angeles riots of 1992, the organization started its first social enterprise business in a deserted bakery, which they called Homeboy Bakery. The shop became the first of many social enterprises that now comprise Homeboy Industries. Since then, Homeboy Industries has blossomed into nine social enterprise businesses, which include catering, baking, grocery, silkscreen, embroidery and others.
But jobs are just part of the equation. Believing that education is transformational, Homeboy Industries helps clients to obtain their high school diplomas, prepare for college or gain professional development skills. Over 300 community members participate in the educational classes each month.
Each person that comes through the organization’s doors is placed with a case manager who helps with goal-setting and provides program guidance. Participants also are eligible for free mental-health services, including help with substance abuse, domestic-violence intervention, parenting education, psychotherapy and more.
So far, the organization has helped more than 120,000 gang members to build new lives.
Want to learn more about Homeboy Industries? Check out their website at Homeboyindustries.org, where you also can donate to the cause.