Homegirl Cafe, a division of Homeboy Industries, is proud to celebrate the first year of a formalized training program for gang-impacted young women who seek to change their lives. The training program, which now consists of three stations-- gardening and maintenance, cafe, and catering-- gives women from poor and violence-prone neighborhoods a safe place to learn real skills that will help them support and educate their families, and become leaders in their communities.
More than 35 young men and women now work in the Homegirl Cafe, and those in the training program participate in two month long "externships" and local restaurants, including the Black Cat Cafe, ChopShop, and the Border Grill. Several of our trainees have now been hired in outside positions, and two have enrolled in community college.
Every Monday the café closes early for Women’s Education. The Monday curriculum covers all areas of personal growth including health, financial management, life skills, art, domestic violence, tai chi, boxing, gardening and a variety of other activities. A strong partnership with Peace over Violence has allowed for an ongoing series of domestic violence workshops to take place throughout the years.
After Homegirl Café hours on Thursdays, all training program staff are required to attend classes directed at improved restaurant skills. These classes are made possible by Glendale Community College (GCC). This collaboration started with Mr. Michael Lao, the Director of GCC’s Hospitality & Tourism management program. Mr. Lao conducted 3 pro bono workshops in the areas of Customer Service Skills, Dining Services and Psychology of Guest Services. Mr. Lao continues to conduct workshops covering different topics within the restaurant industry as part of our year-long training program.
This year, the Homegirl Cafe's focus is sustainability. Homegirl Café has added a gardening component that will eventually become a cornerstone of the business. With the aim of becoming a completely sustainable, farm-to-table effort, the Café is expanding this effort with several community gardens and partnerships that will increase both Café involvement in community outreach and workshops, and sustainability within our enterprise. The café now hosts “garden parties” throughout the year, leads community workshops on urban farming, and employs more than 35 young women working toward a better life.