Case Study finds Homegirl Café Key to Successful Reentry of Previously Incarcerated Women

posted Feb 7, 2013, 3:29 PM by BHC Boyle Heights   [ updated Feb 7, 2013, 3:29 PM by Julio Zaldivar ]

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                      Contact: Manny Rivera

February 6, 2013                                                              




Case Study finds Homegirl Café Key to Successful Reentry of Previously Incarcerated Women

Distinguished Panelists Gather to Encourage Social Enterprise as a Means to Empower Women and Build Healthy Communities


Los Angeles, Calif.—The California Endowment, UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs and Homegirl Café have partnered to host a panel discussion on the release of a new study, entitled Grow. Prep. Serve: Homegirl Café Case Study, examining the impact of the Homegirl Café social enterprise on the lives of at-risk women in Los Angeles. The study is the first of its kind to bring insight into the unique process of recovery and reentry into society for previously incarcerated women and provides findings that can translate to similar efforts at other social enterprises.


“As the UCLA students and the evaluation team chronicled the lives of these women, we all heard their stories of trauma and violence, struggles with public systems, love for their children, loss, adversity, and ultimately, resilience,” said Dr. Jorja Leap, Adjunct Associate Professor of Social Welfare, UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs, and the co-author of the study. “This study and the panel discussion are great ways to kick off a conversation around the role that business and nonprofit partnerships can play in addressing these challenges.”

Panelists participating in the case study discussion include: Dr. Leap; Father Greg Boyle, Director and Founder of Homeboy Industries; Beatriz Solis, Ph.D., Director of Healthy Communities (South Region) at The California Endowment; and Melody Winter Head, Regional Manager, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, Los Angeles Branch. 


“The California Endowment is proud to support social enterprises, like Homegirl Café, that empower residents by providing the resources they need to make healthy decisions in their own lives,” said Dr. Solis. “Through innovative partnerships between business, academic research and foundations, social enterprise provides opportunities for individuals, many of whom have been marginalized, to not only flourish, but also help make their communities healthier.”


Opening remarks were delivered by Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors for District 2, Mark Ridley-Thomas. "The intersection of gender and reentry is of great significance.  Today’s conversation adds value to the ongoing public discourse surrounding that topic, said Supervisor Ridley-Thomas.  “According to a recent report from the Vera Institute, if we index the top barrier to reentry, it is employment.  Homegirl Café endeavors to fill this gap and consequently is improving the quality of life for women (and men) in our communities; in essence they are strengthening families through reintegration."


The study interviewed 50 women ages 25-35, who had all worked at Homegirl Café for at least six months. Each of the women had been convicted of criminal charges that included attempted murder, drug trafficking, and conspiracy to commit fraud.


The words of the women who were interviewed were carefully coded to understand both their pathway back from incarceration and out of gang life as well as the impact of the Café program on their journeys.


The majority of participants in the case study experienced a greater sense of involvement and belonging within their neighborhoods, in the daily life at the Café, and within the culture of Homeboy Industries, as a whole. The women in the study experienced a sense of membership, many for the first time in their lives, within a culture that encouraged and accepted them. Every woman interviewed portrayed their relationships at Homegirl Café as crucial to their efforts at finding themselves and building their internal strength. The study was funded through a grant from The California Endowment.


“For 25 years, Homeboy Industries has helped former gang members and recently incarcerated men and women by providing hope, training, support, and acceptance. We see success stories unfold every day,” said Father Greg Boyle, founder and president of Homeboy Industries. “The impact that the Homegirl Café has had on the lives of the women within our community has helped transform Los Angeles for the better.”  


Throughout the study, the participants attributed the evolution of healthier living practices in their personal lives to the support they received through the educational program at the Homegirl Café. The majority of women interviewed implemented positive changes within their own households and communities after participating in the program.


To read Grow. Prep. Serve: Homegirl Café Case Study, in its entirety, visit:



About The California Endowment

The California Endowment is a private, statewide health foundation, which was established in 1996 to expand access to affordable, quality health care for underserved individuals and communities, and to promote fundamental improvements in the health status of all Californians. Headquartered in downtown Los Angeles, The Endowment has regional offices in Sacramento, Oakland, Fresno and San Diego, with program staff working throughout the state. The Endowment challenges the conventional wisdom that medical settings and individual choices are solely responsible for people's health. The Endowment believes that health happens in neighborhoods, schools, and with prevention. For more information, visit The Endowment’s homepage at


About Homegirl Café

Homegirl Café, a division of Homeboy Industries, is a social enterprise assisting at-risk and formerly gang-involved young women to become contributing community members through training in restaurant service and culinary arts.  The Homegirl Café case study was carefully designed to consider the relationship between this particular social enterprise, how the physical and emotional health needs of reentry women are served in this environment and how the findings can translate to similar efforts at other social enterprises.


About the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs

Founded in 1994 and dedicated in 2011, the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs is a leading institution for research and scholarship in the areas of public policy, social welfare and urban planning. Based in the global metropolis of Los Angeles, UCLA Luskin develops creative solutions and innovative leaders that confront challenges in immigration, drug policy, prison reform, transportation, the environment, and other areas vital to the continued health and well-being of our global society.