Describe your program or new idea in one sentence.
Homeboy is a beacon of hope for those seeking to leave gang life, and for whom there is no other chance to enter the mainstream.
What makes your initiative uniquely positioned to create change in your community?
Homeboy Industries was cited as a model in a 2005 report by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) focusing on the ills accompanying gangs and gang violence. The report stressed that Homeboy, by focusing on intervention, serves a vital need, and is instrumental in helping break the ongoing cycle of gang violence by, for example:
o Keeping gang-involved youth from perpetrating or being victimized by new acts of violence;
o Mitigating harm from past occurrences of violence; and
o Preventing youth gang involvement among the children of gang-involved young parents.
The CDC has also endorsed job training programs as a youth violence prevention strategy. Related to, but distinct from traditional job training programs, they noted the importance of “social microenterprise,” as modeled by the small businesses of Homeboy.
Homeboy is also uniquely positioned to create change due to its ability to reach across all gang lines.
Describe how you organize and carry out your work?
In addition to providing job training and placement assistance and other free programs, a distinctive feature of Homeboy Industries is its small businesses, where the most difficult to place individuals are hired in transitional jobs, thus giving them a safe, supportive environment in which to learn both concrete and soft job skills, while simultaneously building their resume and work experience. While employed in one of our businesses, clients are also enrolled in our support services -- including counseling, tattoo removal, and curriculum classes.
What is your plan to scale and expand your innovation into your community and beyond?
Homeboy Industries began as a jobs program in Dolores Mission church, offering alternatives to gang violence in one of the toughest neighborhoods in the city. It has since grown into a national model, and in 2008, will celebrate its 20th anniversary.
What other resources, institutional, or policy needs would be necessary to help sustain and scale up your idea?
Homeboy is currently undergoing a self-evaluation to assess policy changes implemented as part of our recent expansion. Given that we are already operating at capacity, we realize we will soon need to face an additional expansion and a significant broadening of our services. Needs would include transitional housing, and certification and accreditation for our courses to enable us to better provide real options for the at-risk and gang-involved youth who are striving to make profound change.