Earlier this year, Homeboy Industries, a nonprofit that helps the formerly incarcerated find jobs, announced that it had acquired Isidore Electronics Recycling. The recycling center is located in downtown Los Angeles and it collects, sorts, shreds and resells gadgets including laptops and phones. The recycling center was rebranded as Homeboy Recycling Powered by Isidore, which is named after Saint Isidore, the ancient Spanish scholar considered the patron saint of computers and the internet. The recycling center operates as a separate legal entity, so it will not affect Homeboy’s nonprofit tax status, and this is the first time Homeboy Industries has ventured into the for-profit realm. Thomas Vozzo, chief executive of Homeboy Industries, stated:
We carry two to three times as much labor as a for-profit business would. Our vision going forward is, we want to have a few businesses out there that are not a training program, but run as a regular for-profit business. Folks are ready to work, but there are so many companies that won’t employ someone with a criminal record. There is a bottleneck.
The plan is to provide more permanent positions for men and women who have graduated beyond temporary jobs. Homeboy Industries’ other ventures are staffed by people going through Homeboy’s 18-month training program, which also includes counseling, tattoo removal and other services. Every week, about 400 people take advantage of services such as tattoo removal. Per year, about 10,000 people come through the door and Homeboy Industries usually has about 250 trainees on its payroll. In the next year, the goal is to grow sales at the recycling facility by 40 percent. Hopefully the new venture is doing well and Homeboy Industries is able to help more people.