Homeboy Industries – Jobs, Hope & Transformation for LA’s Former Gang Members

Since 1988, Homeboy Industries has provided job training and counseling to thousands of former gang members, giving them a rare opportunity to change their lives. The organization was started by Father Greg Boyle in the Dolores Mission Parish in Boyle Heights — a part of East Los Angeles notorious for high rates of gang-related violence. Today, Homeboy is located in the more gang-neutral downtown LA, but continues to help transform the lives of high-risk, formerly gang-involved men and women through free services and programs, and social enterprises that serve as job-training sites.

Goodlifer: Homeboy Industries

There are seven social enterprises to date: Homeboy Bakery, Homeboy Silkscreen & Embroidery, Homegirl Café & Catering, Homeboy/Homegirl Merchandise, Homeboy Farmers Markets, Homeboy Diner at Los Angeles City Hall, and Homeboy Grocery.

Goodlifer: Homeboy Industries Bakery

By offering former gang members a place to work, Homeboy provides a place for them to learn employable skills, from administration and customer service to solar panel installation to pastry baking or catering. These are often the first “legit” jobs Homeboy employees have ever held, giving them confidence and self esteem while enabling them to provide for themselves and their families.

Goodlifer: Homeboy Industries Infographic

Homeboy Industries credit much of their success to the support programs offered under the same roof, increasing the likelihood that employees take advantage of these as well. These programs, which are offered free of charge, include everything from tattoo removal, substance abuse counseling and therapy to job preparation, legal services and a GED program.

Goodlifer: Homeboy Industries Infographic

In a given year, Homeboy employs 240-280 people. Although yearly profits are around $3.5 million, the organization recognizes that at an operating budget of slightly less than $15 million (additional funding comes from a large cross section of private foundations, individual and family foundations, Board members, fundraising events, some government funding as well as support from corporations), it will never truly be profitable. Homeboy sees itself more as a job training program than a for-profit business. These jobs can often be the only alternative to re-incarceration or a return to gang life for Homeboy’s employees, and the cost of employing a person is much less than the cost of incarceration. As Father Greg likes to say, “We don’t hire homies to bake bread. We bake bread to hire homies.”

Father Greg Boyle with Homeboy employees

Father Greg Boyle with Homeboy employees

The video above gives a great overview of Homeboy Industries and its incredible impact. Find out how you can help support the future of this important social enterprise.


About author
A designer by trade, Johanna has always had a passion for storytelling. Born and raised in Sweden, she's lived and worked in Miami, Brooklyn and, currently, Ojai, CA. She started Goodlifer in 2008 to offer a positive outlook for the future and share great stories, discoveries, thoughts, tips and reflections around her idea of the Good Life. Johanna loves kale, wishes she had a greener thumb, and thinks everything is just a tad bit better with champagne (or green juice).
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