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Tattoos on the Heart: Empowering Those for Whom Hope is Foreign

Father Gregory J. Boyle, S.J. is a Jesuit priest and Director of Homeboy Industries/Jobs For A Future, an employment referral center for at-risk youth and economic development organization. Begun in 1988 for at-risk and gang-involved youth, Jobs For A Future is now a nationally-recognized center that assists 1,000 people a month in re-directing their lives. Through its unique and multi-service approach, Jobs For A Future offers hope to those for whom hope is often foreign by providing employment opportunities, counseling, and many other services (including free tattoo removal). By seeking to address the root causes of gang violence, Jobs For A Future creates opportunities so that at-risk youth can plan their futures and not their funerals. "Nothing stops a bullet like a job" is the guiding principle.

In 1992, as a response to the civil unrest in Los Angeles, Father Boyle formed Homeboy Industries, to create businesses that provide training, work experience, and above all, the opportunity for rival gang members to work side by side. The following economic development enterprises have been created since the first venture, Homeboy Bakery; Homeboy Silkscreen; Homeboy/Homegirl Merchandise; Homeboy Graffiti Removal, Homeboy Maintenance; and Homehoy Landscaping.

Father Boyle was born in Los Angeles. He received his B.A. in English from Gonzaga University, an M.A. in English from Loyola Marymount University, and an STM degree from the Jesuit School of Theology. Before becoming pastor of Dolores Mission, Father Boyle taught at Loyola High School and worked with Christian Base Communities in Cochabanba, Bolivia. He has also served as Chaplain of the Islas Marias Penal Colony in Mexico and Folsom Prison. Father Boyle is a nationally renowned speaker at conferences for teachers, social workers and criminal justice workers about the importance of adult attention, guidance, and unconditional love in preventing youth from joining gangs. His Athenaeum address is sponsored by the Kravis Leadership Institute at Claremont McKenna College.