Last week The New York Times ran an article about Homeboy Industries in Los Angeles. Homeboy was started by a Jesuit priest who wanted to help kids get out of gangs. He wanted to help them learn how to work and earn money, rather than killing and getting killed through gang activity. These kids are now making Tee-shirts and baking bread. They sell their wares and learn about being successful. I love this idea of seeding capitalism. I love that these kids are learning how to be self sufficient and participate in the American Dream.
My son, who goes to USC, says that Homeboy sells its food on the campus as part of the campus farmers market. That's great because USC is very close to gangland neighborhoods.
When I had a government grant to counsel low income people on how to start businesses, one of the organizations I had an alliance with believed that the same entrepreneurial spirit and skills that inner city drug dealers have could be re-channelled into selling legal products and services. Homeboy seems to be doing just that. I hope more organizations like this pop up and are successful.