About Homies Unidos
Homies Unidos originally formed to address the problems of urban violence and the internationalization of gangs in 1996 when a group of youth, mainly gang members deported from Los Angeles, came together in San Salvador, El Salvador to discuss methods and means of diminishing the violence that plagued them, out of these meetings the organization was formed. In 1998, gang members and former gang members in the predominantly Central American community of Los Angeles in queue with Homies Unidos in El Salvador started working in their neighborhood with the same goal.
It is our mission to defend the inherent right of youth, families and their communities to pursue their dreams and achieve their full potential in a just, safe and healthy society. To achieve this, Homies Unidos works to end violence and promote peace in our communities by empowering youth and their families to become advocates for social justice rather than agents of self-destruction. We offer an alternative vision to incarceration, deportation, and repressive and ineffective zero-tolerance “gang abatement” and “band-aid” social service strategies. Instead, Homies Unidos presents culturally competent access to alternative education, leadership development, self-esteem building, and health education programs tied to social justice advocacy programs that make a difference in the streets and homes of our community.
Our Program Services: Homies Unidos provides youth life skills and parenting programs for target families and gang at-risk and gang involved youth. These curriculums are provided in our office or can be arranged to be implemented in any facility.
EDUCATION: The Epiphany Project is a 12-week educational course designed to help non-active gang members reintegrate into their communities. Upon completion of the program, Homies Unidos pays for the removal of any visible “gang-related” tattoos. Gang tattoos can act as an obstacle to finding employment and can be potentially life threatening, due to the negative effect visible tattoos can have on active gang members, even after an individual has left his/her gang.
FAMILY: Strong families are key to violence prevention. Through our Family Wellness Workshops, we work to build mutual understanding between parents and children. To ease the struggles as young people embrace a life without violence, we seek to enlist support and participation of their families. Our workshops enhance relationship and communications skills to help maintain family wellness and keep families together.
ADVOCACY: Our Libertad con Dignidad program was designed to organize and participate in grass roots political advocacy on behalf of our most vulnerable communities. We encourage program participants to give back to their communities through these advocacy programs. Becoming “involved” helps our families feel empowered to make positive changes in their lives.
INTERVENTION: Homies Unidos is in a unique position to intervene and curtail the troubles of “at-risk” youth through leadership roles because we were once “at-risk” ourselves. We are often called upon by members of the community for advice and instruction on how to prevent potentially life threatening situations.
- Over the past 10 years, Homies Unidos has reached over 5000 youth and families with our violence prevention presentations and programs.
- Over the past 5 years, Homies Unidos has removed more than 300 gang related tattoos.
- Over the past 5 years, 925 youth and parents have graduated from the Homies Unidos Epiphany Project.
- Throughout the past year, Libertad con Dignidad served the underserved by providing assistance to over 500 people whose lives were affected by deportation with our, Know Your Rights workshops and school presentations.
Most recently in the response from the surge of unaccompanied minors from Central America, we have implemented the Joven Noble curriculum to address these youths integration into our communities.
Awards and accomplishment:
2008 Recognition Certificate from Councilmember Tony Cardenas
2008 Resolution by Los Angeles City Council for Homies Unidos 10th Anniversary
2002 Recognition from Councilman Nate Holden
2005: Panelist, United Nations on gang violence in Honduras
2002 Martin Luther King Legacy Association Drum Mayor Award
2002 The California Wellness Fellowship, Alex Sanchez
2001 Lottie Wexler Award 2000 AGAPE Award
Executive Director Alex Sanchez participated in the Fast For Our Future 2008. As a participant he fasted for one week in support of just and humane immigration reform and to promote the participation of voters in the 2008 election for those that did not have the ability to vote. He emphasized the point that although he was not able to vote, he wanted others to remember that they either had the ability to do so or could encourage those with the power to do so to do their part in the civic process of voting.
Homies Unidos Geographic Reach: Pico-Union, Westlake and Koreatown districts as well as West-Adams District and some South Central areas. We serve approximately 1200 people through our programs, university, and community workshops per year. We promote leadership through our programs which have a component that trains and exposes participants to advocacy. Many of the youth and their families that participate then take initiative in organizing in other campaigns and programs that the organization has. They have been pivotal in addressing the issues that affect them in their community through media and public speaking to amplify our message around the issues we focus on. We understand that in order to organize our community to advocate for social justice, we need to address those issues that affect them in that moment.
We have developed the Epiphany project to do just that. The workshops consist of cognitive behavior concepts that address the “Why” we do what we do. We have been able to have our young people understands how issues surrounding their community, school and home have affected them to think that certain things are normal, Such, the helicopter every night around their home, Gang members running around bulling people, drug dealers as neighbors, domestic violence a part of urban life and law enforcement someone to fear. Once graduated from our program youth are able to understand what they need to do about the issues that have affected it them in their community and Homies Unidos has organized and supported initiatives that improves the way of life for our community members.
Homies Unidos Current Status We applaud the The Solidago Foundation, The Threshold Foundation, Hispanics in Philanthropy, The Peace Development fund, the Wiengart Foundation and the Adamma Foundation for their continued support of the important and critical work Homies Unidos has been doing. It is critical to maintain or services to our youth in our community since there is no other organization in the Pico Union areas providing these programs. Therefore, we are reaching out for your support to help Homies Unidos continue their work in our community. Please contact us if you have further questions, We will be happy to sit with you and answer any concerns you may have or how to partner with us. We are an independent 501(c) 3 non-profit organization. Our leaders are engaged with peer organizations to share best practices for organizations around the globe.