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.
Epiphany Project curriculum that offers a 12-week life-skills building program for “at-risk” and gang involved youth involved in participating agencies. Using cognitive behavior concepts youth learn the reasons they make the decisions and the thought process that takes place when de they do. Workshops sessions include but are not limited to: leadership skills, gang violence, domestic violence (Relationship Violence), Coping Skills, Alcohol and Drugs, Know Your Rights, HIV/STD’s, Education and Social Culture Awareness. Understanding how decision making takes place helps the youth make informed decisions when dealing with the topics discussed in the curriculum and how they are all inter-related. If youth wants to remove tattoos we can provide tattoo removal treatments at a reduced price. As part of the requirement they must complete the Epiphany Project workshops to receive tattoo removal treatments. We will provide a workshop to help the youth understand the commitment they have taken.
Family Wellness, Parenting Skills component was developed in response to requests by parents and students in the Epipany Project and Joven Noble program. This component helps participants understand the cultural and generational differences that cause most conflicts between parents and their children. It provides parents/youth with the skills and responsibilities they need to meet in order to develop healthy relationships. Setting Rules, Discipline, developing Communication skills is provided.
Libertad con Dignidad, Homies Unidos’ Libertad con Dignidad program engages family members of our immigrant community to advocate for just immigration and criminal justice laws that have affected them or their family members. The policies we have chosen to support are in line with ending violence against immigrants and promoting the humane treatment of marginalized youth and their families. Because Homies Unidos represents a group of people who are often targeted and classified as “criminals” due to their background and prior involvement in “criminal” activity, we support legislation that reinforces due process and gives every person an opportunity to prove their character so as to stay united with their families here in the U.S. During the past four years we have advocated for policies that assist in the prevention of classifying people as criminals. We have continued our advocacy for legislation that would prevent the vicious cycle of violence that traps youth. Such as, taking families this year to two hearings in the California state capitol, on April 23, for SB580 expanding trauma recovery services to victims of crime and October 9th on Solitary Confinement. SB982 and AB1652, which addresses the concerns of solitary confinement in the prisons in California.
We have partner with Families to Abolish Solitary Confinement in their efforts to free their families from this torturous conditions. Elizza Jurado from the Salvadoran Association in Support of People Deprived of Freedom in the Exterior(ASAPLE) and Homies Unidos have been working together with incarcerated people in the prisons of California for the last eight years. Homies Unidos organizes and provides families information about their rights, civic participation, and advocacy. Since 2013 Homies Unidos has taken group of families accompanied by the El Salvadoran consulate to Sacramento to meet with a representative of the Governor’s office and CDCR officials, family members expressed their concerns about their love ones denial of parole for not having their reentry plans from El Salvador they need to gain their liberty, out of it 25 cases that were presented five them gained their freedom this year.
Youth Leadership Training, Based on over a decade of this work, Homies Unidos has developed two cornerstone programs: our Epiphany Project and Libertad con Dignidad (Liberty with Dignity). Together, these two interlinked programs create an opportunity for at-risk or gang-involved youth and their immigrant families to take control of their lives and neighborhoods and influence policy, particularly as regards the criminal justice and immigration systems. Graduates of the Epiphany Project once they are trained through the Youth Leadership course they participated in our Libertad con Dignidad program, which takes the work of our Epiphany Project to the next level of advocacy for social justice.
El Joven Noble (The Noble Youth) is a twelve-session comprehensive indigenous based, youth leadership development program that supports and guides youth through their “rites of passage” process while focusing on the prevention of substance abuse, teen pregnancy, relationship violence, gang violence and school failure. We provide two hour workshops with follow up case management for at-risk or gang exposed youth who have shown behavior issues in school ages 10-24. Youth will develop ways in which to deal with anger, positive living skills, understanding their families and will develop character. Upon successfully completion the program youth will receive a t-shirt with the word “PALABRA” meaning, keeping your word. This program will create a safe environment for youth, their parents, community, and safe school to learning environment.
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.
Example of our work with youth:
- Know Your Rights workshops in local high schools.
- Interns from both high schools and colleges are trained in leading policy campaigns and Know Your Rights workshops.
- Youth are trained in the creation of media and communications materials with tools such as Microsoft Publisher, Facebook, Myspace and YouTube.
- We have created an Art Program in which we will use art as a tool for recruiting young women and men to use their artistic talent in expressing the issues that affects them and their community.
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.