create Finalist / 2019
Homeboy will help make Los Angeles a better place to create job opportunities for the formerly incarcerated
Each year, Homeboy Industries serves over 8,000 clients with a wide-range of trauma-informed services, employing over 400 clients as trainees in transitional employment. With seven social enterprises and various relationships with felon-friendly employers, Homeboy acts as a promising employment launch point for many Angelenos with a criminal record. Our unique healing-focused and community-based model gives trainees an unparalleled level of support during their transformational journey.
What does your organization do?
Homeboy provides hope, training, and support to formerly gang-involved and previously incarcerated individuals allowing them to redirect their lives and become contributing members of society.
Briefly tell us a story that demonstrates how your organization turns inspiration into impact.
Tyrone and Ignacio were both motivated to come to Homeboy by the promise of a job. As one of many employment training tracks, these two men joined the solar panel program which provides an opportunity for program participants to gain marketable skills in a growing field.
Ignacio was released from prison with nothing but his clothes. During his first week at Homeboy, Ignacio’s case manager helped him get his birth certificate, ID and social security card. From here, Ignacio was so motivated to find employment that he joined a work cohort only a few months into his time at Homeboy. He says Homeboy helped him realize, “my record doesn’t have to keep me back.” He shares that he now has “better life perspective and help for his future.” Ignacio now has promising job opportunities in the field of solar panel installation.
When Tyrone was released from jail, he tried to get a job at Walmart. While he got an initial job offer, he did not pass the background check. When this happened, he knew it was time to see how Homeboy could help. Tyrone shares, “[Homeboy] helped me find a space to reflect on why I kept going back to jail. I usually follow down an easy path and this leads me to trouble.” Unless he changed his decisions, he knew his path would lead to jail again.
When Tyrone began the solar panel training, he did not like that it felt like school but he soon realized he enjoyed the work. Tyrone hopes to study psychology because he often finds himself counseling his friends and family. Still, he’s discouraged to know that even if he gets a degree, his criminal record will limit his job options in the field. Tyrone now knows that he can come to Homeboy for free tutoring and eventually hopes to reduce his felony to a misdemeanor with help from our legal department. Tyrone no longer wants to take the easy road, but the road he knows will help him achieve his goals.
Tyrone and Ignacio both found inspiration within themselves, allowing them to positively impact their own lives and futures. In addition, their stories serve as inspiration for others with criminal records and for those in Los Angeles who stand with the previously incarcerated and their right to a second chance
Which of the create metrics will your submission impact?
- Unemployment (and opportunities) for the formerly incarcerated
In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?
- County of Los Angeles
How will your project make LA the best place to create?
Previously incarcerated individuals have an extremely difficult time finding employment upon re-entry. According to Mayor Garcetti’s Office of Reentry, it has been estimated that as many as 90% of formerly incarcerated Californians are unemployed at any given time. Homeboy Industries works to remove barriers to employment for previously incarcerated and formerly gang-involved individuals who are often deemed unemployable as a result of lack of skills and experience and/or discrimination. The Homeboy community provides a space to learn soft skills important to succeeding in a job, facilitates workforce training, and walks with clients as they heal from complex trauma.
Built on 30 years of serving in the Los Angeles community, Homeboy offers an ongoing comprehensive 18-month re-entry program wherein participants are given paid employment and training in a supportive environment that is understanding of their unique needs (court dates, check-ins with parole officers, etc). As soon a client enters Homeboy’s program, they are assigned a Case Manager and Navigator tasked with walking with them through the program. Each participant creates an individual service plan with their Case Manager that acts as a road map toward their personal and professional goals. After 60 days in the program, all participants begin attending a Work Readiness class that teaches customer service, work behavior, and more. Homeboy provides on-the-job training and skill acquisition, while also focusing on the small things such as belonging to a workplace community or clocking into work.
The clients Homeboy serves today are approximately 76% Latino/a, 18% African-American, and 6% other ethnicities; 72% percent are men and 28% are women. All are low-income and have a history of gang involvement and/or incarceration. Less than half of those who come to Homeboy have a GED or high school diploma.
During the program, participants work in one of Homeboy’s social enterprises (including Homegirl Café & Catering and Homeboy Electronics Recycling) or headquarters to gain on-the-job experience. Homeboy’s social enterprises provide some opportunities for permanent job placement and increasing numbers of local employers have become felon-friendly, still there remains a need for many more jobs in the Los Angeles community that will consider a candidate with a criminal record.
Homeboy knows that slowly changing the status quo is not enough, Los Angeles needs to create more permanent jobs for the formerly incarcerated. With support from LA2050, Homeboy will continue to remove barriers to employment, create job opportunities, and partner with local employers to create opportunities for success for even more Angelenos.
In what stage of innovation is this project?
Expand existing program (expanding and continuing ongoing successful projects)
Please explain how you will define and measure success for your project.
Homeboy measures success in terms of services provided, training and job placements made, and outcomes in key areas that indicate healing: recidivism, social connectedness, substance abuse, and family reunification. Steps toward completing goals on an individual’s service plan, however small or big, are some of our clients’ greatest successes. Social enterprise training and other outside employment tracks help clients successfully transition from “program participant” to “employee.”
Homeboy served over 300 clients in the 18-month program during 2018, and nearly 8,000 additional clients through free a la carte services such as classes and substance abuse support. Toward sustainable employment, Homeboy’s program helps clients gain as many industry-recognized trainings and certifications as possible such as forklift, food safety and welding. Last year, Homeboy helped over 100 clients find employment and continues to build new career pathways in fields including construction, social services, and manufacturing.
Outcomes for the LA2050 grant period include:
At least 300 men and women will be offered transitional employment and training through Homeboy’s 18-month re-entry program
At least 100 clients and graduates will placed in outside employment
An estimated 30 individuals will be enrolled in college
An average of 250 therapy sessions will be attended per month
The truest measure of Homeboy’s success is that for 30 years, gang members keep showing up every day looking for help to get out of the gang lifestyle. Our impact is evident in each life transformed and in the growing Homeboy movement.