Homeboy Industries' Youth Reentry Center
A key resource for systems-impacted (at-risk and/or formerly gang involved or incarcerated) youth, Homeboy Industries’ Youth Reentry Center provides LA County youth ages 14-21 with the support and resources needed to exit gang life and prevent involvement in the adult justice system. As the first and only program of its kind in LA County, the Youth Reentry Center utilizes the expertise developed through Homeboy Industries’ 34 year history supporting similarly situated adults to guide youth as they become the best version of themselves.
What is the primary issue area that your application will impact?
Support for Foster and Systems-Impacted Youth
In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?
County of Los Angeles
City of Los Angeles
In what stage of innovation is this project, program, or initiative?
Expand existing project, program, or initiative
What is your understanding of the issue that you are seeking to address?
In LA County, youth are confined at higher rates in both state and local correctional facilities and live in out-of-home placements at higher rates than the rest of the state. With more than 450 active gangs in LA and a combined membership of 45,000, these system-involved youth are at significantly higher risk of offending and reoffending when re-entering their communities from correctional or residential facilities. This risk has only deepened due to inconsistent access to in-person support for school age students. While the LA Unified School District is back to in-person education, arts, career-support, academic enrichment, athletic, and other extracurricular programs remain inconsistent due to the pandemic, a risk factor to gang-involvement. Without intervention, these justice-impacted youth will continue to face these barriers to education and employment as well as the trauma of system-involvement and exposure to gang life and violence that impact their ability to thrive as adults.
Describe the project, program, or initiative this grant will support to address the issue.
Given that 25% Homeboy Industries' constituents have historically been 14-21 years old, we recognized the need to focus intentionally on juvenile reentry and launched the Youth Reentry Center in 2020. Annually, the Boyle Heights-based center provides 250 youth participants with support and resources related to education, employment, housing, basic needs, legal support, and others, in a cohort-based 12-month program. An integral component of our youth programming, the Homeboy Art Academy, provides community-based art programs that inspire hope, provide a commitment to transformation, and cultivate resiliency through a unique, culturally competent approach. The Art Academy’s work is strongly aligned to the Youth Reentry Center’s overarching goal to reduce recidivism among youth and young adults by providing opportunities for healing and access to the creative economy. The Youth Reentry Center reaches some of the hardest to engage youth in LA County. Due to the high density of gangs, many of our participants have been directly exposed to gangs by family members, friends, and members of their community. Youth in our community look to gangs as a place where they can feel seen and safe. We offer something else. For 34 years, Homeboy Industries has modeled an alternative to the revolving door of gang-involvement and incarceration in LA by offering a healing place for system-involved Angelenos to be seen for the first time, shifting the way they see themselves in the world.
Describe how Los Angeles County will be different if your work is successful.
Our Youth Reentry Center is the first and only space in LA County dedicated to systems-impacted youth. A safe space for those developmentally between adolescence and adulthood, the Youth Reentry Center employs a unique approach to gang prevention and intervention by prioritizing healing. Families count on our programming as a services hub where youth can access our suite of wraparound services without external referrals. Through tailored service plans, our programming helps end the generational cycle of violence and incarceration for young Angelenos. Our success is most clearly seen in stories like David’s. When David was released from a Camp Community Placement, he returned home to find his mother in a nursing home and his father in the hospital. David was referred to the Youth Reentry Center and, after expressing an interest in workforce development, began job training at Homeboy Electronics Recycling (HBR). While completing the program, David was offered a full-time job at HBR!
What evidence do you have that this project, program, or initiative is or will be successful, and how will you define and measure success?
Our impact is best evidenced by the long-term success of our participants. Homeboy Industries began tracking postsecondary education and employment following graduating from the Youth Reentry Center in 2020; thus, we currently have two years of data to report on for this metric. Among Youth Reentry Center participants, the vast majority did not recidivate nor have recidivated, and only 17% (or 27 out of 157) have been incarcerated at any time since their enrollment date. Homeboy Industries continues to refine how we evaluate our youth programming. Our Chief of Research Evaluation & Strategy and on-staff Data Analyst oversee our evaluation of our outcomes on a quarterly and annual basis, including participant high school graduation rates and 12-month Reentry program impact results, among others. These evaluations are used to determine the sustainability of programming and influence programmatic and strategic planning.
Approximately how many people will be impacted by this project, program, or initiative?
Direct Impact: 250
Indirect Impact: 1,000