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In Los Angeles, Chick-fil-A True Inspiration Awards grant recipient offers a safe space and second chances

October 26, 2021

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A $300,000 grant enabled Homeboy Industries to continue providing critical services to its community of more than 10,000 former gang members

Each year, more than 10,000 former gang members from across Los Angeles come through the doors of Homeboy Industries in a voluntary effort to make a positive change. They are welcomed into a community of mutual kinship, love and a wide variety of services ranging from tattoo removal to anger management programs and parenting classes. The community is as much about healing as it is about education and job readiness, with five overarching goals:

• Reduce the risk of relapse into criminal behavior
• Reduce substance abuse
• Improve social connectedness
• Improve housing, safety and stability, and
• Reunify families.

Operator Ashley McCutcheon of the Chick-fil-A® restaurant at 7th and Figueroa first connected with Homeboy in 2018 when the organization hosted a Chick-fil-A Remarkable Futures™ Scholars event. McCutcheon’s Restaurant provided food for the participating scholars and Homeboy trainees.


“Homeboy Industries is very special and a lot of people we interact with work there,” said McCutcheon. “Such a large number of Angelinos come out of prison and have no resources at all. What I love about Homeboy is they take a comprehensive approach to help rebuild the lives of people who have been forgotten or dismissed.”

A challenging year

Founded in 1988 by Father Greg Boyle, Homeboy Industries is the largest gang intervention, rehabilitation and reentry program in the world and has become the model for 350 similar organizations in 32 states and eight countries through the Global Homeboy Network.

Even so, it was particularly challenged at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. In fact, Shirley Torres, chief program officer for Homeboy Industries, said the organization’s services were never more important than they were last year.

“We were fearless in our pursuit to keep hope alive during our darkest times by keeping our doors open and offering full wrap-around care and employment,” Torres said. “The pandemic exacerbated the kinds of struggles our community faces daily, so it was critical for Homeboy to continue offering a safe space to deescalate desperation and promote health and wellness through the power of purposeful activity with employment.”

An extra boost

McCutcheon saw an opportunity to help and nominated Homeboy Industries for a Chick-fil-A True Inspiration Award grant. When she learned they won $300,000, the top grant in the education category, she had to think of a clever way to share the good news in person despite social distancing. Ultimately, she called to say that her restaurant had food donations to drop off, so Homeboy was surprised when they received much more than expected.

Despite the challenges, the organization has achieved significant milestones during the pandemic.

• An average of 244 trainees participated in Homeboy’s 18-month reentry program monthly
• 10 clients earned a high school diploma/GED
• An average of 30 class sessions covering academic, life skills, enrichment or work readiness were held either in-person or virtually each month
• 31 clients enrolled in college for the first time
• More than 154 clients were placed in outside employment—more than doubling the 2020 employment goals
• More than 100 clients received training in industry-recognized fields and 60% of those received related industry certifications
• An average of 306 individual therapy sessions were provided each month by licensed mental health clinicians
• An average of 97 legal consults were conducted each month by a 2-person legal team
• More than 2,000 free tattoo removal sessions were completed by doctors before the shelter in place restrictions were put in place.
• An average of 244 trainees participated in Homeboy’s 18-month reentry program monthly

Homeboy Industries is not court-mandated, but its success rate through programs like these reduces the court’s caseload. A UCLA longitudinal study followed Homeboy clients for five years and concluded that individuals served by the nonprofit had a 30% recidivism rate compared to an estimated 70% rate among felons who did not receive intervention.


What I love about Homeboy Industries is they take a comprehensive approach to help rebuild the lives of people who have been forgotten or dismissed.

Ashley McCutcheon, Operator, Chick-fil-A at 7th and Figueroa, Los Angeles

Looking ahead, Homeboy Industries has a bold vision to expand its campus and change the way the world views, judges and treats its most marginalized by redirecting these individuals into productive citizens.

“Having partners like Chick-fil-A means a great deal to all of us because it means that they stand with us, providing hope and space for change and transformation,” said Torres.

Visit our True Inspiration Awards page to learn more about our other 2021 grant winners.