In San Diego County, there are 158 different street gangs with approximately 7,500 documented gang members. In 2015, the City of San Diego had 911 gang related crimes including 6 homicides, 13 attempted homicides and 200 assaults with a deadly weapon. Increased gang activity impacts neighborhood safety with increased crime, graffiti and drug and human trafficking, as well as San Diego’s youth who are at-risk of being recruited into gangs to “have a place to belong” – even as early as ten years of age. To support individuals who are at-risk of gang involvement and to help those formerly involved in gangs live a safer, more meaningful life, one non-profit has risen to the challenge.
Rise Up Industries, modeled after Father Boyle’s Homeboy Industries in Los Angeles County - one of the largest and most successful gang intervention programs in the country, is working to “minimize gang involvement by providing integrated gang prevention, gang intervention and post-detention re-entry services.” Their Post-Detention Reentry Program is currently in start-up operations and is the first prong of an envisioned three-prong approach to minimizing gang involvement in San Diego County. The Reentry Program helps those wishing to leave gang life to succeed in reaching that goal by providing them with a comprehensive, holistic set of services including case management, mentoring, counseling, education, tattoo removal, community service, health/fitness programs, spiritual programs, interim employment, life skills training, job readiness and job placement.
Rise Up Industries' current programs include:
Tattoo removal, particularly removal of gang related tattoos, is a critical component to successfully leaving gang life. Tattoo removal service is offered to both Rise Up participants and non- participants and is limited to gang-related tattoos and tattoos on the face, hands, and neck, which may interfere with employment opportunities.
Immediate employment in one of Rise Up Industries’ three social enterprises is a key component of the overall program. These enterprises provide their members with a source of income, work experience, work ethic development and life /job skill training. All of the proceeds from the initiatives below help support the start-up and operation of their Gang Intervention, Gang Prevention and Post Detention Reentry programs.
Rise Up Industries is in the process of building up their market and have provided t-shirts for many non-profits and other organizations throughout the county, including Father Joe's Village's Thanksgiving Day 5K, San Diego Steubenville Youth Conference, San Diego Track Club's Rockin N Running Program, San Diego SoleMates Coronado 5K and Kairos International Prison Ministry, to name a few.
Rise Up Industries has three private label blends of coffee: African Malawi Mzuzu, Costa Rica Cerro Azul, and Pure Brazilian Decaf. These coffees are currently available at Major Market in Escondido and Valley Farm Market in Spring Valley. Their goal is to build this business to a point where it can serve as a job training and an employment opportunity for their clients.
In February 2016, Rise Up Industries opened a machine shop and began training their first two members to be Computer Numerical Control (CNC) machine operators, a well-paying trade that is in high demand in San Diego County. Contracted work provides members with production experience and generates revenue to help offset operating costs.
Rise Up Industries provides a comprehensive and fully integrated approach towards the elimination of gang violence and gang membership in San Diego County. They assist those whose lives have been impacted by gang involvement, offering hope, kinship and skill building opportunities that enable individuals to redirect their lives – and their program is growing. Once their reentry program is fully developed, Rise Up Industries will begin their gang prevention and gang intervention programs.
To learn more about their programs or about volunteering with Rise Up Industries, visit: riseupindustries.org.
Article submitted by Joe Gilbreath, Founding President of Rise Up Industries