“Community does come together, through food, money, donations, when we take care of each other, amazing things happen. They’re making kids’ dreams become a reality…”
Read more about “Breaking Chains Academy of Development”
Breaking Chains Academy of Development
If someone had told Luis Grandos, Executive Director of Breaking Chains Academy of Development, that one day he would lead a nonprofit organization, he wouldn’t have believed them. Ganado, born in Grangeville, ID, moved to Nampa as a child. At seven years old, he watched his 10-year-old brother be jumped into a gang, just a couple of short weeks later, Luis joined his brother. Reflecting on his experience, Granados explains, “Growing up, didn’t think I had another option. I saw all of my friends everyone who looked and spoke like me was up to the same thing. I didn’t realize there was another option. I don’t remember joining a gang, I remember being raised into it.”
Along the way, Granados’ older brother introduced him to the Original Gangster’s Basic Academy of Development (OG’s BAD). The organization provided education, work skills training, and recreational opportunities to kids with similar experiences with gang activity. While the organization didn’t keep Granados from completely leaving the gang behind, it did provide him with positive experiences at a critical time in his life. Granados says, “That program, at the time, didn’t completely change my trajectory. I was 19 and charged with conspiracy to commit bank robbery. I did have a base of education and work experience because of OG’s BAD, so the judge decided to give me one year plus felony probation.” After leaving prison, the first thing Granados did was to go back to OG’s BAD, enroll at the College of Western Idaho and find employment. This still, unfortunately, didn’t break the chains of gang affiliation. Granados recalls a gang fight where, as he was running, bullets whizzed by his ear so close he could feel the heat from the bullets going by his head. Granados explains, “I decided these weren’t my friends, they didn’t care about me, so I decided to disappear. . .” He was 23 years old.
Shortly thereafter, OG’s BAD asked Granados to help out in their recording studio and education program. Granados remembers his early days of helping out in the GED program saying, “I remember sitting there helping someone, reading a passage in the book, for a bit there as silence for about 5 minutes and I remember looking around at the “bad” kids, kids that had been suspended or expelled from school and realizing that learning was taking place. They were filling their heads with knowledge. This became my favorite part of my job.”
Years later, Granados is the Executive Director and has rebranded OG’s BAD to Breaking Chains Academy of Development and has been integral to shaping the program into what it is today. Breaking Chains offers at-risk youth ranging from 13-19 years old with education services to achieve their GED, one-on-one mentoring, job skills training, and recreation activities.
Granados has fostered partnerships with the Nampa Housing Authority and the Idaho Department of Labor to help students receive community service hours and employment. While these core services bring kids to Breaking Chains, the program offers so much more like transportation to school, work and court appointments; access to meals; and arguably most important: a positive male figure in student’s lives. Typically, 25-30 students are enrolled at Breaking Chains, with 10 to 12 attending classes full-time at no cost.
Operating through the COVID-19 pandemic has been a challenge, in particular for youth where it is not necessarily safer to be at home during shutdowns. Many students in the program do not have regular access to food, internet, and technology to attend school and complete coursework. After the initial shutdown in Idaho, Breaking Chains reopened its doors to students with precautions in place to mitigate risk of transmitting the virus.
The most pressing donation needs for Breaking Chains at this time are frozen foods, hygiene items, and basic school supplies like paper, pencils, dry erase markers and folders. Additionally, individuals can sponsor students by paying for online practice GED exams ($24) and the GED exam ($30). Those interested in making a donation can drop donations off at Breaking Chains at 1703 3rd St. N. Nampa, ID 83687 or donate directly online at https://www.breakingchainsacademy.com/donate.html
Granados expressed gratitude for the community in helping Breaking Chains and the youth it serves saying, “Community does come together, through food, money, donations, when we take care of each other, amazing things happen. They’re making kids’ dreams become a reality. I wouldn’t be here without a community program. Kids have graduated from school and go onto to further schooling or get an amazing job. It’s up to us to take care of each other.”
Find Breaking Chains Academy of Development online at: http://www.breakingchainsacademy.com
Learn how Breaking Chains Academy of Development is helping youth through the COVID-19 pandemic here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8kF-Z-fY5vM
A huge thanks to the author:
Nicole Fitzgerald, REALTOR®
Silvercreek Realty Group