East Los Angeles Renaissance Academy

Profile: Gerardo “Jerry” Carrera, owner of The Garage Board Shop

When you think of a philanthropist, a picture of a wealthy individual dressed in business attire most likely pops into your head. You wouldn’t expect a man whose usual outfits consist of Dickie shorts, flannels and a fitted hat to also be a philanthropist. Gerardo “Jerry” Carrera, born and raised in East L.A., is an owner of a skate shop who helps members of the community. He is a giving, traditional man who wants to see change in his community, while keeping the Chicano roots of East L.A. alive. He, alongside his wife, offers a variety of programs at his shop for the locals, like tutoring and art shows. He contributes to this change through his store, The Garage Board Shop, which he calls  an urban version of a YMCA. Despite being a businessman, he hosts a variety of philanthropic events for the next generation.

Education is something very important to Jerry , and he wants kids to succeed academically. The Garage Board Shop hosts after-school tutoring for the kids, where mentors help kids with their homework. Jerry hopes to use skateboarding as a sport for kids to focus on doing well in school, similar to school sports like basketball, where academic success is needed. In a successful attempt to increase numbers, Jerry set a point system as an incentive for kids to sit down and study. Points are given for completing assignments and can be saved up to exchange for rewards ranging from merchandise to an iPhone. From his time as a youngster in East L.A. to the present day, Jerry  has seen a big change in the community. He feels kids are starting to take their education more seriously. Some of the mentors at the shop are also local high school kids. Jerry rewards them for their contributions by helping them out with exclusive scholarships. Kids aren’t the only community members Jerry and his store help.

Early in the morning while the kids are at school, Jerry and his co-workers spend their mornings talking on the phone, replying to emails and planning upcoming events. This store is so connected to the community and has been a part of many East L.A events. Recently, Jerry opened up a second location of his business in Boyle Heights, a neighboring community. Due to his kind nature, Jerry hosted an art show for local artists to come and show their artwork. This really helps reveal some hidden gems. Who would’ve thought that a local business owner who is considered to be a gem himself would contribute so much to help not only the future generations of East L.A. but also the whole Eastside community?