In case you don’t know about Homeboy Industries (homeboyindustries.org), they serve at-risk and gang-involved youth with a continuum of services and programs designed to meet their multiple needs, and runs four businesses that serve as job-training sites. JRP recently recruited a volunteer librarian to research a possible new funding stream for Homeboy: social impact bonds. The basic idea is that we as a society save a whole lot of money by keeping people out of jails, hospitals and homeless shelters. So, we should invest in prevention programs. Social impact bonds combine private business, government agencies and nonprofits to fund intensive prevention programs, with business investments being paid back when positive results are shown. Homeboy might a great fit for this kind of funding, as their services provide a path to jobs and engaged citizenship for kids who might very well end up in prison. Stephanie, our awesome librarian volunteer, is researching this new form of social investing, to see if social impact bonds can be brought to Los Angeles.
For more information on social impact bonds, see this New York Times article. Thanks to Stephanie for volunteering, and to Homeboy for helping troubled kids lead productive lives!