Impacting Key Issues
Building Inner City Jobs
Former Gang Members Go 'Green'
Photo courtesy of Homeboy Industries
"Nothing stops a BULLET like a JOB!" That is the message that is driven home each day at Homeboy Industries. But it is more than a message. It is a reality. The men and women who gather each day at the organization's Downtown Los Angeles headquarters know that they can find refuge and hope from the harsh violence that plagues their streets.
Homeboy Industries assists at-risk and formerly gang-involved youth to become positive and contributing members of society through innovative and groundbreaking job placement, training and education programs. It has been doing so for more than 20 years. So it's not surprising that the organization has turned its attention to the emerging Green Sector. "Thinking Green" has become all the rage with many U.S. businesses, but few nonprofits can find the resources needed to focus on energy conservation or other green technologies. Global Corporate Citizenship (GCC) is lending its support to Homeboy as it takes full advantage of Southern California's natural and human resources to make green energy a reality.
Homeboy helps people who have been involved in gangs or been incarcerated get a second chance. The organization offers job training, job placement, counseling, and tattoo removal, among other services. For clients who are trying to develop a solid work history, Homeboy provides employment through businesses that it owns and operates, including a catering company, a bakery, a cafe, and a silkscreen shop. All of these services are aimed at giving clients a fresh start in an area with one of the largest gang problems in the nation.
Father Greg Boyle, Homeboy's founder and executive director sees another important consequence of the Program. "The Solar Panel Training Program allows our clients, virtually all recently released from detention facilities, to imagine a future that doesn't include dead-ends, despair and further prison," he said. "With their imaginations engaged and a renewed purpose given to their lives, they are freed to be good parents and spouses. This program is not only consequential for the participants but for the entire community."
What also sets Homeboy apart is its fledgling Solar Panel Training and Certification Program. GCC has provided $45,000 in grant funds to support this effort, which puts Southern California's abundant sunshine and local talent to good use. "Our Solar Panel Program is an exciting one," said Kaile Shilling, associate director of development for Homeboy. "These are hard economic times, and the field of green technology has real growth potential. It's a great time to get on the ground floor of a growing industry and provide people with job skills and opportunities to earn an honest living and provide a role model for others in their community."
Clients who complete the 10-week program often find employment quickly with the assistance of an employment counselor. The Los Angeles Unified School District is upgrading its campuses with solar panels, providing a major source of employment for certified installers. Homeboy Industries hopes to operate its own solar panel installation business someday.
"Homeboy's Solar Panel Program is unique because it helps former gang members build a better life for themselves and their families in a way that benefits the community and the environment," said Kevin Ober, community investor, Health & Human Services for Boeing. "It's not often that we find an organization that strategically touches so many of our core values and focus areas with measurable outcomes. We are very pleased to support their one-of-a-kind efforts."
Photo courtesy of Homeboy Industries
"With a focus on integrated, active and ongoing learning, we can improve our educational system, accelerate the novice-to-expert timeline and equip future workers to solve the many problems we don't yet know exist."
Jim McNerney, Chairman, President and CEO, The Boeing Company
"Lifelong Cycle of Learning, Unlearning, and Relearning" Excerpted from annual essays on workforce readiness published by The Conference Board 2008
Father Greg Boyle, Homeboy's founder and executive director, sees another important benefit of the Program. "The Solar Panel Training Program allows our clients, virtually all recently released from detention facilities, to imagine a future that doesn't include dead-ends, despair and further prison," he said. "With their imaginations engaged and a renewed purpose given to their lives, they are freed to be good parents and spouses. This program is not only consequential for the participants but for the entire community."
The Solar Panel Program isn't the only part of Homeboy to receive GCC support. The organization also received a $6,000 grant to send one of its own to a highly regarded leadership training program run by the L.A. Chamber of Commerce.
"Many of the Homeboys and Homegirls have innate leadership skills that the gangs were able to exploit early on," explained Jim Herr, senior manager, GCC. "We identified individuals from within the organization who are committed to leading a productive life and have selected a young man to participate in this leadership program. The goal is to not only expand the leadership skills within Homeboy but also add their diverse voice to the broader community through civic engagement and participation."
For more information on Homeboy Industries, visit their Web site: http://www.homeboy-industries.org.