connect Honorable Mention / 2018
Homeboy and LA Voice: Organizing formerly incarcerated Angelenos to vote
Please describe the activation your organization seeks to launch.
Homeboy Industries and LA Voice are partnering to increase education on voter rights, organize for voter registration and participation, and increase civic engagement among formerly incarcerated and formerly gang-involved Angelenos. In standing with the demonized until the demonizing stops, we are working to make Los Angeles a place where all residents are more able connect and become contributing members of our community.
Which of the connect metrics will your activation impact?
- Government responsiveness to residents’ needs
- Voting rates
Will your proposal impact any other LA2050 goal categories?
- LA is the healthiest place to LIVE
In what areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?
- County of Los Angeles
- City of Los Angeles
How will your activation mobilize Angelenos?
- Digital organizing or activism
- Trainings and/or in-person engagements
- Create new tools or technologies for greater civic/political engagement
- Increase participation in political processes
- Influence individual behavior
- Connect Angelenos with impactful volunteer opportunities
Describe in greater detail how your activation will make LA the best place to connect?
In the state of California, individuals with a criminal record have the right to vote if they are not currently in a state or federal prison or on parole for a felony conviction. Not every state has the same voting rights, leading to a lot of confusion or misinformation when it comes to voting rights. As a result, far too many eligible voters who are deeply impacted by the policies passed by our elected officials are not being represented in our elections. Homeboy Industries, with thousands of formerly gang-involved and previously incarcerated individuals coming through their doors annually, and LA Voice, with their experience turning out tens of thousands of underrepresented voters to the polls, are ideally situated to address this problem.
Voter turnout among the formerly incarcerated population is generally very low due in large part to a lack of information and misinformation about voting rights, socioeconomic factors, and community narratives of voting being worthless. Yet Homeboy Industries and LA Voice have seen through previous collaborations that when this segment of the community organizes, change happens.
Our idea for the LA2050 activation grant was sparked by this question: How much more could we achieve for Los Angeles if every formerly incarcerated Angeleno were civically engaged?
With nearly 50 years of combined experience, Homeboy Industries and LA Voice’s models are complementary in serving the reentry population and organizing for civic engagement and voting. In 1986 when Homeboy’s founder Father Greg Boyle began serving in Boyle Heights, Los Angeles was regarded as the gang capital of the world. At the time, law enforcement tactics of suppression and criminal justice policies of mass incarceration were the prevailing means to deal with gang violence leading to hundreds of thousands of individuals serving time in California correctional institutions. Today, Homeboy is the largest gang intervention, rehab and reentry program in the world. The Homeboy model emphasizes true transformation combining therapeutic and support services with the goal that no one would recidivate and that everyone would have improved social connectedness.
For the last three elections, LA Voice has organized voter engagement efforts led and staffed by formerly incarcerated leaders who educated their own communities on ballot measures and encouraged their communities to vote. If our idea is funded, Homeboy and LA Voice together will turn these efforts into a year-round movement of formerly incarcerated leaders who educate their community in a non-partisan way to impact their communities, change the criminal justice system, and engage with other poverty-related policies by increasing their collective voice in the halls of power.
How will your activation engage Angelenos to make LA the best place to connect
According to Mayor Eric Garcetti’s office, each year more than 45,000 people are paroled to LA County, and over 163,000 individuals pass through our county jail system. With this many impacted by the justice system, much work is needed to connect formerly incarcerated residents with tools to exercise their agency and voice. We believe that our schools, our environment, our justice system, and our city will be its best when all voices can connect to one another and connect to those in power.
In recent years, LA Voice trained more than 200 formerly incarcerated leaders in community organizing strategies, working closely with Homeboy and other organizations serving the formerly incarcerated. One local organizer and Homeboy trainee shared that, “It wasn’t until I came to Homeboy that I knew I could vote. People in my community don’t think their vote matters, but there’s all kinds of things we can do to impact our communities.”
Our strategies to CONNECT Angelenos for voter engagement include:
Voting rights educational materials to be distributed at Homeboy’s 5k run/walk event held each September
Workshops on topics such as voter rights, practice ballots, and upcoming ballot initiatives
Voter registration booths at Homeboy events
Social media voting rights educational campaign
Empowering individuals with information and/or accompaniment to local community meetings
Training events for formerly incarcerated individuals to learn how to organize their own communities
Please explain how you will define and measure success for your activation.
Our activation will build on our past partnership success to engage hundreds more formerly incarcerated individuals in voter engagement and organizing, toward activating at least 100,000 Angelenos for civic engagement. As Homeboy’s founder Father Greg Boyle often says, “unless you transform your pain, you’re going to transmit it.” We aim to see individuals transform their pain into community contributions for the next generation and beyond.
Success in connecting Angelenos to civic engagement and voting will include the following outcomes:
At least 1000 new voter registrations per year
An estimated 50,000 informational conversations/announcements per year including online and offline outreach
Two training seminars held each year at Homeboy Industries
Voting rights educational materials produced for distribution to over 100,000 Angelenos
Social media information on voting rights and registration will reach at least 25,000 per year
At least 100 previously incarcerated and/or formerly gang-involved individuals will be trained in community organizing
At least 200 formerly incarcerated will attend community events or town halls to learn about and contribute to issues in their community
Where do you hope this activation or your organization will be in five years?
Homeboy Industries aims to change the way the world views, judges and treats our most marginalized and demonized—the formerly incarcerated and gang-involved. By our daily work and commitment to the healing of the most demonized in a trusting and loving community, we will demonstrate to the world a new way forward. We are committed to stand with the demonized until the demonizing stops. Toward that end, we invest in foundational healing and personal development to see that no one re-offends and that everyone becomes a contributing member of our community. As contributing members of the community, we envision formerly gang-involved and formerly incarcerated men and women as engaged voters and community members.
In five years, together with LA Voice, we desire to see a greater block of formerly incarcerated individuals connected to civic engagement in the Los Angeles community. We will have trained over 100 additional formerly incarcerated organizers on voter engagement organizing, and they will be able to regularly register and reach thousands of formerly incarcerated individuals each year for sustainable outreach beyond the grant period. The partnership between LA Voice and Homeboy Industries will be cohesive and ongoing, supporting local organizing efforts for marginalized communities, and continually building up the base of individuals who identify as part of a growing voter bloc of formerly incarcerated voters.
We believe now is the time to bolster our efforts to help disenfranchised voters connect to opportunities to make our city the best it can be for all Angelenos.