The Conrad N. Hilton Foundation is pleased to announce that the Los Angeles based, nonprofit organization Homeboy Industries has been chosen as the 2020 Humanitarian Prize recipient and will receive $2.5 million in unrestricted funding. As the world’s largest annual humanitarian award, the Prize is presented to a nonprofit organization judged to have made extraordinary contributions toward alleviating human suffering. To date, the Hilton Foundation has awarded $36.5 million to recipients of the Prize. Homeboy Industries joins the roster of 24 Prize Laureates, including METAdrasi, SHOFCO, icddr,b and The Task Force for Global Health, selected by an independent, international jury.

Homeboy Industries is a unique place where former gang members are able to experience healing from their violent pasts within the context of kinship. It is a place of hope where work therapy, mentorship, education, tattoo removal and many other vital re-entry services are offered so people can have a second chance at life. “We used to be worst enemies on the streets and now we’re family at Homeboys.” Edwin Ramos, Homeboy Trainee (left) and Jermaine Smith, Homeboy Navigator (right). ©Homeboy Industries

Peter Laugharn, president and CEO, Conrad N. Hilton Foundation states, “The Jury’s selection of Homeboy Industries as the recipient of the 2020 Hilton Humanitarian Prize speaks to the power of standing with people who have been systemically marginalized, creating space for them to heal and invest in their future, with the intention of ending the socio-economic inequities that impact communities. A tremendous example of ground-breaking humanitarian work right here in Los Angeles, its community-led approach has spawned and supported a global network of over 300 organizations. Homeboy Industries embodies the spirit of the Prize and the work of the Foundation — focusing on equity, resilience and dignity — in an inspiring way.”

Founded in 1988 by Fr. Gregory Boyle, S.J., Homeboy Industries was formed with the goal of improving the lives of former gang members in East Los Angeles. At that time, Fr. Gregory Boyle, S.J. was a pastor of the Dolores Mission Church, the most impoverished Catholic parish in the city, along with Aliso Village and Pico Gardens, the two largest public housing projects west of the Mississippi. They also had the highest concentration of gang activity in the country. While law enforcement tactics of suppression and criminal justice policies of mass incarceration were the prevailing means to deal with gang violence, Fr. Gregory Boyle, S.J. saw young people who deserved a chance and has since worked to change the way the world treats those who have been systematically marginalized.

Today, Homeboy Industries has evolved into the world’s largest gang intervention, rehab and re-entry program and is dedicated to providing hope, training and support to individuals, which in turn makes a positive impact in those individuals’ families and communities. Homeboy Industries’ re-entry program focuses on helping participants heal from complex trauma through the delivery of wrap around social services rooted in a culture of kinship and tenderness. Additionally, the program builds work readiness skills for participants through employment opportunities in nine social enterprises which it owns and operates.  

“All of us at Homeboy Industries are profoundly humbled by the Hilton Foundation’s recognition,” Homeboy Industries Founder Fr. Gregory Boyle, S.J. said. “Their validation of our work of 32 years strengthens our resolve to create a community of kinship and healing in Los Angeles. This acknowledgment helps us all to move past ‘survival of the fittest’ and allow the thriving of the nurtured.”

“The entire Homeboy Industries team is honored to be recognized by the Hilton Foundation, an organization with such strong focus on humanitarianism,” Homeboy Industries Chief Executive Officer Thomas J. Vozzo said. “This recognition is testament to our wide community of supporters, leaders with lived experience and professionals who all come to walk alongside those on the margins, to make a difference in their lives and our communities.”

The invaluable support that Homeboy Industries has received from both Los Angeles and California State government officials have been instrumental to the success and survival of Homeboy Industries and its community. 

“Homeboy Industries is in the business of second chances, helping thousands of Angelenos — including survivors of mass incarceration and systemic racism — find meaningful healing, job training, and community,” said Mayor Eric Garcetti. “I applaud the Hilton Foundation for recognizing Homeboy Industries’ transformative work in Los Angeles and around the world, and I extend my warmest congratulations to Father Boyle and the entire Homeboy family.”

“Through its exemplary commitment to healing lives, Homeboy Industries has rightly earned the Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian Prize bringing pride and inspiration to Los Angeles County and serving as a global model for hope and change,” said Supervisor Hilda L. Solis. “I am proud to stand with Homeboy Industries and those on the margins who seek to change the arc of their lives and new chances on life.”

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic and taking necessary safety precautions into consideration, the in-person 2020 Conrad N. Hilton Symposium and Prize Ceremony has been replaced with virtual gatherings, which will take place online throughout the year, and will be available to all who want to tune in.

Each year, the Hilton Foundation reviews nominations from notable nonprofits throughout the world, and an independent, international panel of distinguished jurors makes the final selection after a rigorous vetting process. The following individuals served on the 2020 Hilton Humanitarian Prize jury: The Right Honourable Helen Clark; Leymah Gbowee; Hawley Hilton McAuliffe; Her Majesty Queen Noor; Mark Rosenberg, M.D., M.P.P.; Zainab Salbi; Ann M. Veneman; Dr. Ernesto Zedillo Ponce de León.