California Youth Outreach
Originally founded as Breakout Prison Outreach in 1981, the organization was established by Pastor Ortiz to provide care, support and counseling services, giving hope to youth and young adults victimized by drug abuse, violence, and gang lifestyles.
In 1987, Pastor Ortiz established Breakout Prison Outreach (BPO) as a California Non-profit Religious Corporation, reaching out to incarcerated youth and young adults, guiding them to find a better way of life through Christian-based teaching and values. The core outreach activities of BPO began in the state institutional facilities between 1982 and 1996 and during this time span weekly visits with the inmates took place. Breakout Prison Ministry conducted Gang Awareness Weekends within various California Youth Authority (CYA) facilities throughout Northern and Southern California. Due to the accountability and credible reputation gained by the organization, outreach visits were also allowed to be provided within the walls of San Quentin State Prison, Pleasant Valley State Prison, Northern California Women’s State Prison, and the California Institute for Women. In 1998, the Agency began doing business as (dba) California Youth Outreach (CYO) to better reflect its mission and program services. Through its evolution, CYO has developed the ability to provide cost-effective youth and gang intervention services by hiring staff members who have themselves undergone rehabilitation and successfully overcome gang lifestyles.
CYO’s bilingual/bicultural staff members understand the impact negative lifestyles have on youth’s lives and are effective role models who promote healthy lifestyles, free of violence, drugs, and gangs.
Pastor Tony Ortiz was awarded the 2004 California Peace Prize by the California Wellness Foundation. An ex-gang member and ordained minister, Pastor Ortiz has used his first hand knowledge of gang life to minister to young men and women who have fallen prey to gangs and drugs.
Over the years, Pastor Ortiz has become a nationally recognized expert in the field of gang intervention and prevention services. He has been honored for his work by the California Legislature, the California Youth Authority, and the City of San Jose.