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Thursday, August 13, 2009

Priest's program in peril

Father Greg Boyle's Homeboy Industries, one of the largest anti-gang programs in the United States, has rehabilitated hard-core criminals in the Los Angeles area for two decades now. But an Associated Press story reports that after Friday, Homeboy Industries could be no more. It seems the priest's program is yet another victim of the economic recession.

Here's an excerpt from the story:

Homeboy is one of few agencies that have proven success with a population traditionally difficult to reach, said Beatriz Solis, director of healthy communities for The California Endowment, which recently gave Homeboy $500,000 for mental health programs and has donated to the nonprofit since 1999.

But this year Homeboy started to run into financial trouble — contributions from foundations and corporations dried up, government contracts were slashed in half, and state budget woes made collecting bills for past contracts impossible, including a $310,000 tab owed by the Division of Juvenile Justice for mentoring young parolees, said Mona Hobson, director of development.

The nonprofit, which carries a top, four-star ranking from nonprofit analyst Charity Navigator, has lost about 40 percent of its $9 million annual budget.

Boyle, who is fighting leukemia, has managed to push Homeboy from payroll to payroll the last few months — $350,000 every two weeks for salaries and bills. He's gathered $200,000 through Web site donations, put Homeboy merchandise online to ramp up sales, frozen new hiring and extended cafe hours to serve dinner on weekends.

Hobson has reached out to foundations and corporations she hasn't tapped before and that's resulted in a trickle of contributions.

But Homeboy is now hitting a dead end.

Click HERE to read the entire piece or HERE to learn more about Homeboy Industries.

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