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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
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Photo of Abraham Orozco
Abraham Orozco Director of Scientific Arts & IT Director
Work Phone: (213) 389-1148 x227
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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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El Sistema Brings Success to Teaching Partnership

Teaching music is what gave me back my passion. After performing professionally and getting my Masters, I was completely burnt out of playing, I never wanted to pick up an instrument again. But teaching was a new challenge, a new joy. It asked me to work backwards, to go back to the basics and think about music in a way I hadn’t in a long time. It renewed my love of music.” -Katie Swaydis, Bard MAT Graduate Student HOLA’s campus is bustling with partnerships. While […]

$5.8 Million Gift from The Audrey Irmas Foundation for Social Justice

  This is an historic moment for Heart of Los Angeles and the young adults connected through the College Success program. Not only has HOLA received the largest gift in its history, the gift itself made international history as well. When Sotheby’s sold the Cy Twombly’s Untitled (1968) at $70.5 million Wednesday evening at an auction, a $5.88 million college scholarship fund for HOLA alumni became effective from The Audrey Irmas Foundation for Social Justice (AIFSJ). It is estimated that over 200 HOLA students will benefit from the Irmas Scholarship […]

Holiday of the Heart 2015

Blending Cultures via Dia De Los Muertos

In some American families, it’s common to want to shield our young ones from the bleakness of death and grief. In an attempt to soften pain and fear, children are told privately and delicately when unavoidable tragedies occur. But in varying Latin American cultures, Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead), brings light and a sense of comfort to the realities of mortality — and an opportunity to celebrate the lives of loved ones who’ve died. This holiday’s history is not limited to one particular nation or […]

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 […]


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.


Heart of Los Angeles is a 501(c)(3) charity. Your gift is tax-deductible as allowed by U.S. law.


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