As the largest gang intervention, rehabilitation, and re-entry program in the world, Homeboy Industries has transformed the lives of thousands of justice-impacted individuals. Join Michelson 20MM for a conversation with the Homeboy Industries team, who will share the process of developing their programs, their projects on the horizon, and how they are incorporating California’s Best Practices: Pathways From Prison to College, information to support currently and formerly incarcerated students in their educational journey.
The “In Action” series will highlight programs and organizations across the state which are implementing strategies from the report. We are committed to ensuring that all currently and formerly incarcerated individuals have an equal opportunity to succeed as students and beyond.
Associate Director of Education, Homeboy Industries
Brittany Morton is the Associate Director of Education at Homeboy Industries where she works alongside students as they imagine and actualize restorative, inclusive, and empowering learning spaces while pursuing their educational goals. Such goals range from literacy support, high school diplomas and equivalency, career technical education, and higher education through Homeboy’s Pathways to College program. Additionally, Morton is a co-creator of Breaking Bars Community Network and co-facilitator of their Liberating Scholars Educational Training–a comprehensive training for community college faculty and staff on how to best work with, support, and learn from students with incarceration experiences. Morton believes that education is a tool for social change and transformation. She knows that education transforms at a personal, communal, and generational level as it frees the mind and empowers and unites communities. Morton collaborates with students as they work to create space, share stories, and embrace both their academic and experiential knowledge. She earned her Masters of Arts in Social and Cultural Analysis of Education at California State University, Long Beach, and her Bachelor of Arts in Sociology with a minor in Global Studies from Azusa Pacific.
Board Liaison, Homeboy Industries
Working at Homeboy Industries since 2011, Johanna Carbajal is the Board Liaison where she works alongside and supports the Board of Directors. After being part of the foster care system, joining a gang at 15, and being in and out of juvenile detention camps, Carbajal was sent to an adult prison at 18. At 19, she re-committed herself to the program at Homeboy Industries. While there, Carbajal allowed herself to heal. She became a mother to her daughter, Chanel. She participated in individual therapy, secured housing, tattoo removal, and graduated from UCLA with a B.A. in Political Science with a minor in History. Her passion is to become a Criminal Defense attorney to advocate for more rehabilitative services instead of incarceration.
Laura Electa Hayes
Academic Program Manager, Homeboy Industries
Laura Electa Hayes is an undergraduate transfer student in the New Resources program at Pitzer College. Her advocacy work, community aid efforts, and scholarship focus on providing equitable space for formerly incarcerated and system impacted students at all levels, while also specifically highlighting the value of their experiential knowledge and lived experiences. Her engagement and commitment to this research, what she calls “heart-work,” are directly related to her experiences throughout her life and as the daughter and sister of currently incarcerated people.
Hayes currently works at Homeboy Industries as their Academic Program Manager, supporting scholars with adult literacy services, GED certification, and high school completion. She also serves on the Advocacy and Community Advisory Board for CORE—the reentry support program at Pasadena City College, and she has volunteered teaching beginning college concepts for the Prison Education Project. These positions have allowed Hayes to work with individuals who are currently incarcerated, individuals who are formerly incarcerated, and individuals on parole and probation seeking to re-acclimate into their communities.
Academic Program Assistant, Homeboy Industries
Gennell Lewis was released from prison in September 2021. Due to her record, she found it impossible to find a job. A friend, who had been incarcerated with Lewis, told her about Homeboy Industries, and she went there to seek employment. During her participation in the 18-month training program at Homeboy Industries, Lewis connected with the Education team and eventually was hired as Academic Program Assistant. Her work includes, but is not limited to, supporting individuals in completing their high school education or equivalency, applying for college, ordering transcripts, applying for financial aid, and setting up and accessing student portals. She finds even more valuable is the fact that whatever she doesn’t know, she has a fully dedicated support team and between everyone, we find the answers.
Lewis herself and many other staff members utilize the services that the education department provides. She believes that the support and encouragement she has received has given her the courage to pursue a doctoral degree and a career as a behavioral therapist. In a way, this support has made the education process less intimidating. Being around individuals with like-minded aspirations provides Lewis with positive competition and motivation, enabling her to stay focused and achieve her goals.
University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) undergraduate student, Homeboy Industries alumni
Edin Madrid is a Homeboy Alumni and is completing his undergraduate studies at the University of California, Los Angeles. As a formerly incarcerated and undocumented student, he is a resilient and inspiring individual, who has triumphed over adversity to become a powerful advocate for the rights and education of formerly incarcerated individuals. Having navigated the challenges of the criminal justice system, Madrid is a living testament to the transformative power of education. His personal journey has fueled a passion for dismantling barriers to education and reintegration. Madrid is actively engaged with organizations and foundations committed to creating positive change in the lives of those affected by incarceration.
Academic Program Assistant, Homeboy Industries
Mynor Mendez is an undergraduate transfer student in the sociology program at University of California, Los Angeles. His scholarship, research, and advocacy work focus on providing restorative spaces for formerly incarcerated students at the juvenile level. In doing so, he highlights the value of his own experiential knowledge and lived experiences. Mendez currently works at Homeboy Industries as an Academic Program Assistant, supporting students with high school, GED, and college enrollment. He also works as the Program Liaison at Bruin Underground Scholars and Break it to Make it (LACC). Mendez has volunteered to speak on multiple student panels to bring awareness to the need for support services for formerly incarcerated individuals and the intersection of incarceration and disability.