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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
Updated 11 months ago. Return to top.
Photo of Brittany Mejia
Brittany Mejia SmartStart Director
Work Phone: (213) 389-1148
Updated 9 months ago. Return to top.
Photo of Christine Newkirk
Christine Newkirk PAT High School Director
Work Phone: (213) 389-1148, ext. 230
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Photo of Abraham Orozco
Abraham Orozco Director of Scientific Arts & IT Director
Work Phone: (213) 389-1148 x227
Updated 8 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 Silvia Velazquez
Silvia Velazquez Bridges Middle School Director
Work Phone: (213) 389-1148 x248
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She’s Heading East

Jessica Ambrosio had some difficult choices to make when it came time to deciding where she wanted to go to college. She had lots of incredible options, including Brown and Yale Universities. She ultimately decided on Yale where she will be majoring in Electrical Engineering and Earth Science. When she graduates from Yale, Jessica hopes to enter the field of cyber security. Jessica’s decision was made a bit easier when she was notified that she had been chosen as a Gates Millenium Scholar!!! She is […]

SmartStart Travels the World

The SmartStart kids started off their summer with a bang! The theme of week one was World Travelers – Culture and Geography and their learning and exploring was capped off with a field trip to the Plaza de Cultura y Artes museum and cultural center. While they were there, the students had the opportunity to explore the edible teaching garden, which celebrates the Mexican and Mexican American cultures by creating sustainable urban agriculture. The students learned about different plants and flowers and even created their […]

2015 Community Graduation

On a beautiful June evening, Heart of Los Angeles and the City of Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks held the 5th annual Community Graduation, celebrating the accomplishments of elementary, middle, high school, college AND graduate school graduates in the Rampart District of Los Angeles. This year, 63 young men and women graduated from HOLA’s high school program and 95% of the graduates will be heading this fall to colleges and universities all over the country. Matt Toledo, the Publisher and CEO of the […]

HOLA Welcomes 10 Summer Associates

This summer, HOLA is thrilled to welcomes 10 AmeriCorps VISTA Summer Associates. Six of the 10 VISTAs are HOLA alumni themselves, returning to give back to their community. The VISTAs will be supporting HOLA’s academic programs, working with students in the SmartStart, Bridges, PAT and Scientific Arts Programs. The VISTAs will focus on reducing summer learning loss and assist with academic remediation, working individually and in small groups with the highest need students. Research shows that without continued academic support underserved youth will lose critical […]

Seniors Celebrate Informed Decision Month

April marked “Informed Decision” month at HOLA. Throughout the month, the College Success Program hosted multiple opportunities for students to learn more about the college acceptance process. Volunteers from the UCLA Hillel Student Group hosted a workshop to help students make informed decisions about which college is the right fit for them. The College Success team also hosted a workshop to help parents navigate through the many questions that arise once their child has decided where they will go to college, including financial aid, enrollment […]

Junior League Hosts Literacy Event at HOLA

The Junior League of Greater Los Angeles recently hosted a literacy event for HOLA’s SmartStart Elementary School Program. The event featured a reading of How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World by Marjorie Priceman and included several other fun and engaging activities centered around the book and its themes of culture and geography. In addition to a read-along with the students and their parents, the kids learned how to make a healthy version of apple pie using english muffins, apple slices and […]


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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