Alex Levesque is the founder of the Automotive Mentoring Group (AMG), a nonprofit that works to counter gang violence in the city of Chicago, Illinois. The organization recruits gang members from across the city and teaches them the skills needed to build careers as auto mechanics, thus giving a chance at reform to those who would otherwise likely fall victim to violence in the streets.
AMG provides these services free of charge. What Alex does receive in return is the knowledge that he is saving lives, providing disenfranchised young men with an avenue to become integral parts of society.
What Inspired Alex Levesque to Start Automotive Mentoring Group?
Alex claims that philanthropy was not something that was instilled within him growing up. Instead, it was “sort of a God-given instinct.” Being a resident of Chicago, he has seen first-hand the detrimental impact of gang violence. According to NBC Chicago, 2021 alone saw 3,561 shooting incidents and 797 homicides in the city. The majority of these homicides were the results of “conflicts between rival gangs.”
“I’m very mad about everything I see,” says Alex. “I’m mad about these Black and Brown boys killing each other over shoelaces. I’m mad about these drive-by shootings… I want to be that alternative.”
Alex Levesque Provides Mental Health Resources, Education, and Job Opportunities
Alex does more than just teach his mentees to be mechanics. He addresses the root causes of gang violence. Crime in general has historically stemmed from inadequate access to resources. Because of this, Alex makes every effort to give his students the means to become successful. From providing food to mental health resources, he leaves no need unattended to.
To inspire his mentees, he even takes them on field trips that expose them to what life can be like once they graduate. Each trip is typically to one of AMG’s 82 hiring partners, who are willing to give jobs to anyone who successfully completes the program.
“The only way that you can truly be successful in changing what a person does is changing the way they think,” Alex tells us. “And the only way you can change what a person thinks is through exposure, exposing them to many things so that they can dream bigger.”
What Has Alex Levesque Accomplished Through AMG?
AMG has helped hundreds upon hundreds of young men and women find employment in the automotive industry. These mechanics may have otherwise lost their lives to gang violence. Alex is therefore not only saving lives, but he is breaking the all-too-common cycle of gang members not being able to escape the lifestyle.
One specific story that sticks out to Alex is the story of “Otis,” who by the time he entered the program, had already served two years for armed robbery. As he progressed through the program, however, he became committed to reform. Currently, he is a regional manager for O’Reilly Auto Parts.
Alex Levesque Is a Hero
Since founding Automotive Mentoring Group, Alex Levesque has seen first-hand the potential we all have to be heroes. He is no more powerful than the average human being, but he uses the experience he has to instill positive change, to break the negative cycles that, for some, have come to define his city. He does not allow one’s past mistakes to affect his perception of them, as he believes that all people have the opportunity to reform.