By Mynor Mendez, Academic Assistant, Homeboy Industries

Homeboy Industries means the world to me. Before I came to Homeboy, I only had a dream that I did not know how to convert into a reality. While in custody, I wrote a letter to Father Boyle, Founder of Homeboy Industries, asking for help; in response, he said that the doors to the organization were open.

Upon my release, the first place I went was Homeboy Industries, a nonprofit that assists formerly incarcerated and gang-impacted individuals transform their lives. Dedicated to turning my life around and mending the harm I had caused my community, I signed up for their 18-month training program, which focuses on healing and change. Through the program, I gained support with my academics, was able to terminate parole early, and regained my green card. Today, I work in the same Education Department that assisted me, where I am an Academic Program Assistant. In my position, I help students enroll in college, navigate the college system, apply for financial aid, and connect to campus resources.

Being able to attend Lo Máximo as a staff member and not as a trainee has been one of the greatest moments of my time at Homeboy. To be able to tell and show people my struggles and achievements was an honor. From my perspective, sitting at a table with stakeholders who support education is validation that everything I am doing to be a better person through education is the right decision.

I never thought that getting accepted to all 13 universities I applied to was possible until I came here. Today, I can say that I am proud to be a transfer student to the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). In a way, being able to attend Lo Máximo was a recognition of my dedication and hard work. Looking ahead, my goal is to prevent kids from having to go through the traumatic experiences that the immigration and judicial system put me through—education is my path to fulfill my commitment and goal.

To learn more about Homeboy Industries, visit

Michelson 20MM is a private, nonprofit foundation seeking to accelerate progress towards a more just world through grantmaking, operating programs, and impact investing. Co-chaired and funded by Alya and Gary Michelson, Michelson 20MM is part of the Michelson Philanthropies network of foundations.

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