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Homeboy Industries: Youth Employment & Community Trumps Gang Life

As the largest gang intervention and re-entry program in the USA, Homeboy Industries serves formerly gang-involved young men and women with a continuum of free services, and operates 7 social enterprises that serve as job-training sites.

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"Many of Homeboys and Homegirls arrive into young adulthood with no support system and absent families. When these young men and women teeter in their stability, Homeboy is often called on to serve as 'parent.'

What Homeboy provides is a supportive community, a sense of family and a place where young people come to help find their strengths, learn job skills, get an education, learn new life skills, and become contributing members to their families and communities.

Homeboy provides job training positions and free social services for formerly gang involved and previously incarcerated young men and women. Each client is assigned a Case Manager on day one who helps them set a goal plan that may include: obtaining a high school diploma or GED, a course of action for release from parole or probation, and a general game plan for needed services, classes, and skills in order to find outside employment.

Life at Homeboy begins for our trainees with work in the maintenance department. During the course of their time at Homeboy, trainees move from maintenance to a vocational skill-building position in one of our six social enterprises, or an administrative position in our program headquarters.

Daily activities for the “homies” (our trainees) might include attending a class such as Computer Basics, Bridge to College, Building Healthy Relationships, Anger Management, or Parenting, and perhaps having a one-on-one appointment with a mental health counselor and a tattoo removal session.

Homeboy Industries has helped thousands of high-risk youths with a variety of free programs: mental health counseling, GED classes, job training and legal services. The program's motto: "Nothing stops a bullet like a job."

Besides Homeboy Bakery, other small businesses that serve as a transitional employers for those ready to leave the gang life include Homegirl Café & Catering, Homeboy Silkscreen & Embroidery, and the Homeboy Cafe & Bakery in the American Airlines terminal at Los Angeles International Airport."

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Photo of Shane Zhao

Great contribution Tim! I featured your research in a recent blog post on how we can approach this challenge by exploring widely and with more contexts. Check it out:

Looking forward to where you might take this!

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