Neighborhood Allies Leads Learning Exchange to Homeboy Industries

Aug 23, 2019

With support from McAuley Ministries, Neighborhood Allies led a Hill District-based delegation to Homeboy Industries‘ Global Homeboy Network Gathering from August 10th to 13th to learn about initiatives that provide previously incarcerated men and women with training, employment, and support to contribute to the wellbeing of their families and communities.

The Hill District is home to a disproportionate number of families that have encountered incarceration and, in turn, experience nearly insurmountable issues upon re-enterance into the community, including the inability to secure employment. Often, the struggle to find a job with a livable wage results in the return to a lifestyle that led to incarceration in the first place. The staff at Neighborhood Allies, along with the Hill District Ministers Association (HDMA) and other Hill District community members, are hoping to implement some of Homeboy Industries’ strategies in the Hill District and surrounding areas in order to provide opportunities for previously incarcerated men and women right here in our own community.

A key component of Homeboy Industries’ model is their use of social enterprise, or a business that applies commercial strategies to improve the well-being of individuals rather than creating enterprises for profit. Trainees at Homeboy are paid to learn job skills and work for one of the social enterprises they run. Homeboy’s social enterprises include: Homeboy Bakery, Homeboy Silkscreen and Embroidery, Homegirl Café, Homegirl Catering, Homeboy Merchandise, Farmers Markets, Homeboy Diner at Los Angeles City Hall, and Homeboy Electronics Recycling. In addition, Homeboy offers case management services, tattoo removal, employment services, mental health services, legal services, education, and solar panel training and certification. While Homeboy recognizes that different businesses will work for different cities, they aim to share best practices and technical assistance with organizations looking to replicate their model.

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What the Delegates Have to Say about the Conference:

“The Homeboy Industries Conference was an amazing experience. It was great and inspiring to see the work Homeboy Industries is doing with organizations across the world to implement restorative justice. I believe our Pittsburgh delegation learned a lot that we can begin to brainstorm and implement what that looks like here in Allegheny County.” – Glenn Grayson Jr., Senior Program Manager for Neighborhood Development

“The concept of a social enterprise that empowers and embraces the entire individual in a holistic design demonstrates that this model could work conceptually anywhere. It [the gathering] helped our team realize that all or parts of the Homeboy Industries concept can be introduced and successfully implemented in Pittsburgh and the Greater Allegheny County area. The project of a beloved healthy community can thrive and inspire here just as it does across the Homeboy Network.” – Reverend Lee Walls, Hill District Ministers Alliance

As a result of all of the local success achieved by supporting and launching social enterprises across Los Angeles, Homeboy Industries went worldwide in 2014 when it launched The Global Homeboy Network (GHN). Since then, over 400 organizations from around the world have visited their Los Angeles campus to learn best practices to support previously incarcerated men and women in their own cities. The Gathering is geared toward individuals who are devoted to supporting marginalized populations and want to join their circle of compassion, tenderness, and kinship.

Thank you to the amazing delegates who attended the Gathering!

  • Glenn Grayson – Center That CARES/ Wesley Center AME Zion Church
  • Taili Thompson- Allegheny County Health Dept. Office of Violence Prevention
  • Reverend Lee Walls – Hill District Ministers Alliance
  • Reverend Eric Ewell – Director of Continuing Education, Penn state-Greater Allegheny and pastor
  • Glenn Grayson Jr. – Senior Program Manager for Neighborhood Development, Neighborhood Allies
  • Shad Henderson – Director of Equity and Community Partnerships, Neighborhood Allies

Top Header Image Photo Credit: Prototyping Larimer Stories by artist John Peña, photo by OPA