Homeboy Global Network Gathering brings together agents of change from around the world

Homeboy Global Network Gathering

Attendees at the Homeboy Global Network Gathering.

We attended the 2019 Homeboy Global Network gathering for the fourth time earlier this month. The sixth annual event brought together 320 attendees from 85 organizations, seven countries, 30 states and 72 cities.

Six years ago, Homeboy Industries in Los Angeles decided to create a network that would bring together nonprofit change agents from around the world and encourage them to take aspects of  Homeboy Industry’s program back to their own communities. And that network gets together every August. During the two-day event members can share ideas, learn best practices and get to know each other.

Why we became involved in the Homeboy Global Network

We’ve been impressed by Homeboy Industries, the world’s largest gang rehabilitation and reentry organization, for many years, so when we first heard about the gathering we decided to attend. And we’ve kept going back.

“The reasons we attend the Homeboy Global Network Gathering are many. A key reason, however, is that we want to get together with people who are working with the same population we are. We want to learn as much as we can to improve our core work — serving those coming out of prison by being a resource for their healing and for their success in adjusting to life on the outside,” says Mark Drevno, Jails to Jobs founder and executive director. “At the gathering, there were people from around the world. We wanted to see what they are doing and learn from their successes and mistakes. It’s good for us to share our successes and mistakes, as well. It’s a process that can help us improve our offering just that much faster.”

The Homeboy Global Network Gathering consisted of two days of workshops given by Homeboy and other HGN members. Topics ranged from partnering with other organizations and fundraising to creating a social enterprise and establishing healthy communities. Panel discussions and technical support sessions were also offered. Father Greg Boyle, Homeboy’s charismatic founder, delivered opening and closing remarks and was participating and available throughout the gathering.

Impressive HGN members

Some of the HGN member organizations we were particularly impressed with:

  • Astanza Laser – a laser equipment supplier that generously extends substantial discounts with special pricing on both equipment and service contracts to nonprofits that offer free or low-cost tattoo removal. Three of the four– and the newest – machines Homeboy owns are Astanza.
  • The Other Side Academy – a vocational training school for people age 18-64 in Salt Lake City with a two-year program that some students attend instead of being incarcerated.
  • Mod Pizza – a second-chance employer with more than 400 locations across the U.S. and in the U.K.
  • Our Father’s Table – a San Capistrano, Calif., faith-based organization that gets to know the homeless people in the community and guides them to the services they need.
  • Generation Diamond – an Omaha-based organization that helps youth find purpose in their lives and reach their full potential.
  • Underground Grit – a nonprofit organization in Orange, Calif., that promotes change in prisons, jails, and juvenile facilities by providing innovative services within institutions and to those in reentry.
  • Project 180 turns lives around through innovative, wraparound services that keep people out of jails and prisons and in their communities.
Father Greg inspires attendees

Beyond the organizations and the workshops, however, was the presence and inspiration of Father Greg Boyle, founder of Homeboy Industries. Being with him and hearing his teachings is the main reason we attend, according to Drevno.

“You leave there with a lot of hope and feeling revitalized,” he says. “Through his storytelling and sense of humor, Father Greg had many beautiful ways to remind us of what’s most important. And what’s most important is that you need to lead with your heart and that we belong to each other.”

Father Greg Boyle

In his closing remarks, Father Greg tells the gathering that:

“We are always on the lookout for the hidden wholeness that’s been there all along. Unshakable goodness. We help each other find our way home to have full and free access to our own undeniable goodness, our essential dignity. It is never in question, only our access to it.

In our Network, it is never about choosing. It’s about finding. If damaged people damage people, and if traumatized people cause trauma, then people who have experienced love and tenderness will extend that into the world. We believe all of us that cherished people will cherish people and in this we all inhabit our own mystical dignity. So this is the truth of who you are as we leave our time together. You are mystics, and you have chosen to speak the whole language. Don’t stop. May you continue to be fluent in extravagant tenderness.

Members look ahead

The Homeboy Global Network is sold out every year, and we feel that it would be nice if it could be more than an annual gathering. As a start, a private LinkedIn group for members was proposed. This group  will hopefully provide a common forum for conversation and offer a chance to get to know other member organizations. That way, we can all continue to learn from each other and improve what we do to further encompass the ideals of Father Greg.

Dave’s Killer Bread Foundation’s Second Chance Summit tackles ex-offender employment issues

Dave's Killer Bread Foundation'sThe Dave’s Killer Bread Foundation brought together business, nonprofit and government leaders at its Second Chance Summit in San Francisco in early December. The goal: to educate attendees about the opportunities and resources available for employing people with criminal backgrounds

This was the organization’s fourth summit. Two others took place in Portland in 2014 and 2015, and the third in New York City earlier this year.

Speakers at the San Francisco event:
  • San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon, who discussed how gaining housing and employment are two key elements in helping second chance employees find success and ultimately in lowering recidivism rates. Providing employment opportunities makes a community safer by steering people away from committing crimes.
  • Jessica Jackson Sloan, the national director and co-founder of #cut50, who spoke about her personal experience with incarceration.
  • Joe DeLoss, founder of Hot Chicken Takeover in Columbus, Ohio, who discussed being a second chance/fair chance employer. He explained how at HCT, the fact that everyone starts at the bottom and the benefits offered speak to what employees actually need are what makes his business successful. The background check conducted of his employees is more than just looking at someone’s record but an honesty check. It makes sure that employees are open and honest about their past and know that it will not count against them. Currently, 68% of his staff is second chance employees, and he hopes to see that number grow in the future.
  • Seth Sundberg, founder of snack food company Prison Bars, who talked about his experience as a second chance employee and employer.
  • Van Jones, president and co-founder of The Dream Corps and #cut50, who gave the keynote address, encouraging people and companies to take a risk and hire second chance employees. Do not waste genius and make a difference in someone’s life by giving them a chance, he said.
Panels included second chance employers and employees

In addition to the speakers, panels addressed various issues related to second-chance employment.

A panel of second chance employees discussed their work experiences and how they got to where they are today. They all agreed that one of the things they were most afraid of in applying for a job was the fear of rejection because of their past. However, they were fortunate to find organizations to help them. To those on the panel, receiving a second chance means everything; it gives them somewhere positive to go, a way to provide for their families and hope. One of the most important ideas expressed during the panel session was that knowing, and learning to own, that the person you were in the past is not the person you are today.

The second chance employee panel, moderated by Paul Solomon, executive director of Sponsors, Inc., included Andre Eddings, assistant supervisor of the Wrap Department of Dave’s Killer Bread; Ruth Butler, administrative assistant at Homeboy Industries; Melissa Brewster, community engagement manager at Luminalt Solar; and Vanessa Velasquez.

Another panel consisted of employers. Panelists stressed that being a second chance employer is not something that most people think they can handle. What employers should know is that they need to take the time to get to know the people they are working with and to invest in their community. By providing jobs, they are helping the community, especially those looking for a second chance. They discussed how employers can help their second chance employers and how it can benefit them in the process.

Led by David Israel, founder of Pop! Gourmet Foods, the panel members included Ronnie Elrod, director of manufacturing for Dave’s Killer Bread; John Krause, owner of Big House Beans; Audrey Holmes, director of workforce development for Homeboy Industries; and Emma Rosenbush, general manager of Cala Restaurant.

Workshops dealt with a variety of issues

Six afternoon workshops focused on different ways employers and organizations that work with second chance employees can help them. The sessions also debunked some of the legal and insurance myths concerning employing second chance employees. Topics included getting leadership buy-in, employer insights for nonprofits, building a talent pipeline, best hiring practices and helping employees go from good to great through engagement.

The Dave’s Killer Bread Foundation focuses on empowering second chance employment. With the help of its Second Chance Playbook, available online free of charge, the organization is working on providing the resources necessary to teach companies about the benefits of hiring second chance employees.

Other organizations involved in planning and hosting the summit include #cut50, which aims to cut the prison population in half in the next 10 years, and REDF, which works to create job opportunities and pathways for those who have barriers to employment.

redf.org

Global Homeboy Network Gathering scheduled for August

Global Homeboy Network

The Global Homeboy Network Gathering in L.A. in August will include optional tours of Homeboy Industries facilities.

The third annual Global Homeboy Network Gathering will take place August 7-9, 2016, at The California Endowment in Los Angeles.

The event attracts about 200 people each year from throughout the U.S. and around the world who have been inspired by Homeboy Industries in their own work and organizations.

The Network, which now includes more than 85 organizations, was created with the first conference in 2014 to help other organizations spread the Homeboy model to locations beyond Los Angeles.

This year’s gathering will begin with a welcome reception at the Homegirl Café late Sunday afternoon. The next two days will include workshops on such topics as social entrepreneurial programs and development, fundraising and development, peer navigation and membership, and identity and re-identification.

Hotel rooms have been blocked at the Sheraton Los Angeles Downtown Hotel and Doubletree by Hilton on South Los Angeles Street and listed under “Homeboy Industries.”

Those interested in participating in the gathering can register on the Homeboy Industries website.

The cost to attend is:

  • $150 for those who register before June 24
  • $200 for those who register between June 25 and July 22
  • $225 late registration between July 23 and August 1

Founded in 1988 by Father Greg Boyle, a Jesuit priest who still runs the organization, Homeboy Industries is considered one of the world’s largest and most successful reentry and gang intervention programs. It operates a variety of social enterprises including a bakery, café, silkscreen and embroidery business, and a diner at Los Angeles City Hall.