In 2007, Chicago native Alex Levesque founded Automotive Mentoring Group (AMG). The nonprofit organization recruits gang members from across the city and teaches them the skills necessary to build careers as auto mechanics. Through AMG, Alex seeks to give a chance at reform to a disenfranchised sector of the population.
Alex does not charge his mentees for these services. All he asks from them is commitment to turning their lives around and becoming integral parts of society. In giving gang members the resources to leave a deadly lifestyle, he is doing his part to counteract Chicago’s massive problem with gang violence.
What Influenced Alex Levesque to Found Automotive Mentoring Group?
Spending the majority of his life in Chicago, Alex has seen first-hand the horrors of gang violence. In 2021 alone, 3,561 shootings and 797 homicides occurred in the city. The vast majority of these incidents were gang-related. In fact, Chicago is considered the most gang-infested city in the entire United States.
Alex was and still is angry at the violence that occurs within his city. And he understands that it’s cyclical: people caught up in the gang lifestyle often can’t find a way out, as it is truly all they know. It gets passed down from generation to generation, and the problem only becomes augmented.
Alex founded AMG to break that cycle, to give his mentees not just a career, but wisdom to pass down to their children so that they won’t fall victim to gang violence.
Why Is Alex Levesque an Everyday Hero?
Alex has over three decades’ worth of experience in the automotive industry. He doesn’t need to operate AMG to make a living. He does it because of his innate desire to improve his community. He couldn’t stand to watch young people lose their lives to petty conflict, So he stepped up and now provides a way out for those who desire it.
Beyond his knowledge of automobiles, Alex doesn’t possess any powers beyond those of an ordinary person. He simply has the empathy and drive to make the world better. He is living proof that anyone can be a hero.
Alex Levesque Provides His Mentees With the Tools to Succeed
Alex recognizes that there are many factors at play when it comes to young people joining gangs. Whether it be bad upbringings, mental health issues, or a lack of resources, he tries to mend the problems that contribute to criminal behavior in his mentees.
He provides his students with nourishment—food, water, coffee—every day, he gives them one-on-one time with a licensed therapist, and he even provides avenues for them to get jobs after completing the program.
AMG has over 82 hiring partners who are more than willing to hire graduates of the program. The organization is also partnered with several alternative high schools, which allow the future mechanics to earn their GEDs.
Alex Levesque on the Importance of Parenting
Based on his experience, Alex believes that a huge reason why many young people join gangs is their lack of a father figure. In fact, he estimates that about 95% of his students grew up without fathers. He tries his best to fulfill this role, leading by example so that his mentees will be better parents themselves, as many of them already have children.
Aside from Alex, AMG has nine other volunteer mentors. Since some students may need support that Alex is not equipped to give, he has a variety of people who can accommodate the differing needs of the mentees.
Alex Levesque Has Helped Hundreds of Students and Counting
Across the roughly 15 years that AMG has operated, the organization has helped hundreds of former gang members find lucrative careers. Many of these students would have likely lost their lives to gang violence, but because of Alex’s work, they’ve now found a greater purpose.
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One success story that sticks out to Alex is that of a student named Otis. By the time Otis entered the program, he had already spent two years in jail for armed robbery. However, influenced by the instruction he received at AMG, he committed himself to reform. Currently, he is a regional manager for O’Reilly Auto Parts.
Otis was on a path towards self-destruction. His story is proof that Alex’s work is effective at changing lives for the better.
Alex Levesque Is an Everyday Hero
Alex doesn’t believe that people’s past mistakes define them. He sees the potential for growth in all of his mentees. While he is justifiably angry at the current state of his city, he has an optimism that not many possess. His ability to see the good in people, as well as his drive to make change, make him the perfect person to operate an organization like AMG. Thanks to his work, lives have been saved, and for many, the cycle of violence has finally been broken.