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Heart of Los Angeles (HOLA)

Program Description

Heart of Los Angeles (HOLA) is a non-profit organization that provides at-risk and underserved youth, ages 6-19, living in Los Angles with exceptional after-school programming in academics, arts, and athletics. In 1989, a young professional in the community recognized that youth living in the Rampart District neighborhood lacked positive influences and safe places to hang out. He began playing basketball with a handful of students and now, over two decades later, HOLA serves 2,400 youth each yer through structured and rigorous programs. Our student's academic needs are met through our elementary, middle school, and high school education programs. These programs are led by highly trained, credentialed teachers who invest daily in the academic well being of each student, helping them to prepare for college and change their life trajectory.

These academic programs are supplemented by a wide variety of enrichment activities that include a full youth orchestra and music program, visual arts department, premiere sports leagues, leadership and technology classes, and more. Students also benefit from a vibrant alumni program, as well as counseling and family services led by a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. Since HOLA first opened its doors more than 23 years ago, thousands of at-risk elementary, middle school, and high school students have received the highest level of instruction from our dedicated staff and volunteers. HOLA operates Monday through Saturday year round and all programs are free, an essential feature for local families. There are no student qualifications for HOLA enrollment. HOLA has a four-building 24,000 square foot campus that includes multiple classrooms, a state-of-the-art field turf soccer field, a full gymnasium and indoor athletic facility, multiple education and fine arts libraries, two art studios and an art gallery, music and orchestra rooms, three computer labs, and a science, technology and digital media center.

Residing in the culturally rich but economically struggling Rampart District, HOLA serves youth in one of the most densely populated areas in LA county. The district includes over 75,000 residents within a 1.75-mile radius, 28% of which are under the age of 18. Latinos compromise the largest ethnic group in the community (63%), followed by Asian Americans (26%). HOLA's members are approximately 75% Latino, 14% African American, and 7% Asian American. One-third of families are at or below the poverty line and two out of every three households are low-income. As a result, this district is home to heavy violence, drug trafficking, and over 30 active gangs that begin recruiting at 10 and 11 years of age. According to an LA Times report, during a recent 6-month period there wre 487 violent crimes reported in HOLA's neighborhood alone. With over 2.5 million youth under the age of 18 living in the Los Angeles city limits, it is critical that HOLA continues to provide as many students as possible with the hope for a better life, a community that believes in them and a place they can call home. Through HOLA, youth are finding a safe place to learn, aspire and escape the generational cycle of poverty and crime. HOLA is a family -- a haven for those seeking somewhere to belong.

Success Stories

Meet Recent UC Santa Cruz Graduate Christian Portillo!

Christian is a very accomplished student from HOLA Class of 2007. With a great passion for psychology and education this young man has proven himself in the Educational Opportunity Programs (EOP) at UCSC. He was recently promoted from Senior Intern to EOP Lead Counselor Apprentice under the Executive Director of Retention Services and Director of EOP. Christian was very involved in campus life while at UCSC. While Christian has had many accomplishments, he is most proud of developing a pilot program designed to help students graduate from college. Of course his ambitions do not stop there. Currently, Christian is researching different Ph.D. programs in Psychology, and in Human Development and Family Studies at NYU, UT Austin, and the University of Wisconsin at Madison. Way to go Christian!

Ready, Set, Go!

Darlene Moran is a dedicated HOLA worker. From helping kids with their homework to teaching a new sport every week, Darlene does it all. Her biggest goal is to prevent gang violence in at-risk youth, which is why she plans to pursue a career in criminal justice and social work. Although she is a great role model to her community, Darlene admits that the children inspire her to continue her studies at CSU Los Angeles. Moreover, she loves spending time with like-minded people who care about their communities. I think we all enjoy Darlene's presence around HOLA! Thanks for always lending a hand.

Networking is Key!

Catherine Baltazar should know the importance of networking. She was busy interning for the Anschuntz Entertainment Group (AEG) during the Summer of 2012. Her favorite aspect of the experience was expanding her network. The internship at L.A Live allowed her to work alongside many departments such like environment and sustainability, sales and marketing, and the global partnership team. Now that her bags are backed and her wallet is full of business of cards, Catherine is off to face a new challenge: her first year at Wellesley College.

North Carolina, New York, and Ireland in one Summer!

Prospective art major Juan Correa was lucky enough to explore his interests all over the world. Through programs like Art on the Farm (Ireland) and Penland (North Carolina), Juan unleashed his creativity with printmaking, drawing, photography, and painting. One of his fondest memories was visiting the beautiful Cape Clear Island in the southern point of Ireland! Juan is currently at Skidmore College in New York. He plans to take on an additional major and find more opportunities similar to those he had through HOLA.

Services Provided

  • Academic enrichment/tutoring/study skills
  • Arts and cultural
  • Career exploration and counseling/internships
  • College admissions guidance and counseling
  • College fairs/campus visits
  • College transition and retention support
  • Community service/service hours
  • Financial aid advising/FAFSA completion
  • Leadership development
  • Mentoring
  • Other
  • Parent/family services
  • SAT/ACT and other test preparation
  • Scholarships and last-dollar grants
  • Science, tech, engineering, & math (STEM)


Race & Ethnicity

  • Asian or Pacific Islander: 7%
  • Hispanic/Latino: 75%
  • African American: 14%

Education Level and
Number of Students

  • High School: 900
  • Middle School: 750
  • Elementary School: 800
  • Post-secondary: 250
  • Non-traditional: 0

Populations Served

  • Academically At-risk
  • Academically High-performing
  • Undocumented Students (350)


  • More than 75%

Colleges Attended
by Alumni

  • Barnard College
  • Brown University
  • California State Polytechnic University-Pomona
  • California State University-Los Angeles
  • Case Western Reserve University
  • Columbia University in the City of New York
  • Cornell College
  • Franklin & Marshall College
  • Haverford College
  • Humboldt State University
  • Kalamazoo College
  • Kenyon College
  • Knox College
  • Loyola Marymount University
  • Occidental College
  • Pitzer College
  • Santa Monica College
  • Skidmore College
  • Smith College
  • University of California-Davis
  • University of California-Los Angeles
  • University of California-Santa Cruz
  • University of Southern California
  • University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • Wellesley College
  • Whitman College

Matriculation & Completion

  • 4-yr College Matriculation: 86%