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June 22, 2009

Homeboy Industries: An Innovative Model Provides New Beginnings

Homeboy Industries is one of my favorite non-profit organizations and one I have followed for many years after a professor in graduate school introduced me to the company.

Started in 1988 by Father Gregory Boyle, Homeboy Industries "assists at-risk and formerly gang-involved youth to become positive and contributing members of society through job placement, training and education".

While it began as a jobs training program, Homeboy Industries quickly grew by adding several businesses that would employ the youth and teach them both work and life skills. Proceeds from the businesses continue to fund the outreach programs and services including: employment counseling, mental health counseling, tattoo removal, 12 step meetings, and legal services.

20 years later, Homeboy Industries now boasts at least 6 independent businesses including: Homeboy Bakery, Homegirl CafĂ© & Catering, Homeboy Maintenance, Homeboy Merchandise, Homeboy Press and Homeboy Silkscreen & Embroidery. Through these businesses thousands of former gang members have worked side-by-side with rivals at creating a new beginning for themselves. This organization is so impressive not only because of the impact it has created, or the creative solutions it devised to meet the community’s needs, but also because of its innovative model and visionary aims.

Many non-profits have recently followed suit by bolstering their operations with revenue generating businesses, but Homeboy seems to have been a leader in this area.

Despite the progress made and goals accomplished, Homeboy Industries has targeted several additional issues (including transitional housing and day care) that it seeks to address in the coming years through an expanded services platform. At the time of writing Homeboy Industries is geared up to launch a “virtual car wash” in order to bring national awareness to the organization. Be one of the first to know & help spread the word!

You can also support Homeboy by sporting some of the gear made at their merchandise shop.

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