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Heart of Los Angeles seeks to empower and enrich the lives of young people ages 6-24 by providing quality academic, arts and athletics programs. HOLA provides opportunities that these youth cannot get anywhere else, inside or outside of school.

HOLA’s youth attend overburdened inner-city schools, live in communities that are heavily impacted by illegal drug trafficking and gang violence and many are children hindered by poverty and immigration status. HOLA seeks to break this cycle by providing a structured program of exceptional academic support and enrichment through our SmartStart Elementary School Program, Bridges Middle School Program, PAT High School Program and Alumni Program.

Photo of Nancy Dodge LCSW
Nancy Dodge LCSW Counselor and Licensed Clinical Social Worker
Work Phone: (213) 389-1148
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Photo of Kevin Franco
Kevin Franco College Success Director
Work Phone: (213) 389-1148 x222
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Photo of Brittany Mejia
Brittany Mejia SmartStart Director
Work Phone: (213) 389-1148
Updated 11 months ago. Return to top.
Photo of Abraham Orozco
Abraham Orozco Director of Scientific Arts & IT Director
Work Phone: (213) 389-1148 x227
Updated 10 months ago. Return to top.
Photo of Loren Rubin
Loren Rubin Director of Leadership & Summer Programs
Work Phone: (213) 389-1148 x228
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Photo of Sonia Salazar
Sonia Salazar High School PAT Director
Work Phone: (213) 389-1148, ext. 230
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Photo of Silvia Velazquez
Silvia Velazquez Bridges Middle School Director
Work Phone: (213) 389-1148 x248
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Google Takes Students on Virtual Field Trip

On Wednesday, a friend from Google paid Bridges and SmartStart students a visit and brought some funny looking glasses along. Students soon learned that these weren’t just any cardboard glasses but Google cardboard glasses. Ryan, the Google representative, explained that the futuristic eyewear were in fact virtual. Students had the world at their fingertips and were able to take a 3D ride around the world. HOLA teachers asked, “Where do you want to go?” as they held iPads that controlled the location to which the kids could visit. “Spain! Greece! Hogwarts!” were a few destinations that the students eagerly […]

Spotlight on STEM Teacher Emma Cunningham

“What do I love about teaching? The challenge of, ‘How can I create a trail of breadcrumbs to help a student going from unknowing to knowing?’ Figuring out what I can do from the sidelines to help a student reach that ‘aha!’ moment independently — I love that.” -Emma Cunningham, HOLA teacher of Scientific Arts Born and raised between Los Angeles, Japan and San Diego, Emma Cunningham has traveled a path filled with tech, creativity, and a passion for social justice that has led her most recently […]

Alumna and Crew Lend Some Advice Via Film Series

HOLA alumna Priscilla Rios (Class 2011) and recent college grad was studying with the Everett Program at UC Santa Cruz when she had the idea to create a series of college advice videos for current HOLA school students.  The Everett program, which trains students to perform service projects for community organizations while incorporating technology, asked Priscilla and others in the program to propose a topic and an organization where they can make an impact. “Early on, I decided I wanted HOLA to be the organization that I dedicated my time […]

PAT Students Organize to Make a Difference

The LA Rakers was founded in the same way most social movements are formed: as an informal collective of young people determined to address social problems. As Margaret Mead said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed individuals can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” HOLA senior, Emanuel Honorato, is one such individual — thoughtful, committed, and determined to change the world. Currently interning at City Council where he is working to address local homelessness, Emanuel attributes the conversations he’s had […]

Honoring The Junior League of Los Angeles

On their 90th anniversary, we will honor the extraordinary women of The Junior League of Los Angeles, Inc. (JLLA) at HOLA’s annual Holiday of the Heart in November. The JLLA has understood the barriers preventing neighborhood youth from attending college, thus they provided esteemed volunteers to serve as mentors and offered a series of workshops called “College 101” for HOLA’s high school seniors. These workshops included sessions on the college and financial aid application processes. Reflecting HOLA’s mission to support our students through college, the JLLA took the discussions a step further by discussing […]

HOLA’s Best: Increasing Our Capacity to Serve

From the desk of Brittany Mejia, SmartStart Elementary Director: Every year, Bridges Middle School and SmartStart Elementary staff have to make the tough decision of selecting students to participate in the regular 4-day per week programming. Unfortunately, this also means having to turn students away due to lack of space. In an attempt to remedy that, we’ve decided to try something new this year with a pilot extension program called HOLA’s Best. After reviewing applications and accepting students for the main programming, we then selected an additional number of […]


HOLA provides underserved youth with exceptional programs in academics, arts and athletics within a nurturing environment, empowering them to develop their potential, pursue their education and strengthen their communities.


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