Homeboy Industries is the largest gang-intervention program in the country, serving the needs of thousands of East Los Angeles gang members who are looking for a way to leave the streets behind. Its motto is: “Nothing stops a bullet like a job.”
For the past 20 years, the Rev. Gregory Boyle, a Jesuit priest who started Homeboy, has mentored and counseled the more than 12,000 gang members who pass through Homeboy each year to learn job skills, get their gang tattoos removed and attend therapy sessions on everything from alcohol abuse to anger management.
Thanks in part to his program, gang-related homicides have been cut in half and in half again since 1992, when L.A. county saw 1,000 gang-related homicides.
Rev. Boyle wrote a book recently, documenting his success, called, Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion.
Homeboy Industries‘ cafe, bakery, and tee-shirt businesses are totally self-sustaining.
(READ the story, or listen at NPR.org)
UPDATE: Since this story was posted in 2010, Homeboy had grown and prospered, starting ventures like catering, a farmer’s market, and offering a solar panel certification training program. They still offer tattoo removal, mental health counseling, and education.