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Program Mission: SmartStart provides elementary students with the FUNdamental building blocks necessary for academic advancement and personal growth.

Each year HOLA’s SmartStart program serves over 60 boys and girls, ages 7-11. SmartStart provides academic and tutoring support, helping youth to develop solid reading, writing, math and study skills. In addition, SmartStart staff further support the students and families by attending parent conferences, individualized education program (IEP) meetings and student success team (SST) referral meetings. Attending these meetings allows SmartStart staff to create learning centers that address students’ individual needs.

SmartStart offers a creative environment in which learning is fun and where students begin to see learning as an inherently rewarding, lifelong process. SmartStart is deeply committed to supporting the development of young children as caring, good human beings, as well as scholars. SmartStart’s staff believes that children work harder, achieve more and treat each other with a higher level of dignity when their efforts are visibly and consistently encouraged and valued. SmartStart provides meaningful lessons that address California State Standards and a nurturing community designed to promote the best in our students.

Program Goals:

  • Improved academic performance
  • Increased confidence in self-expression
  • Ability to work well on a team

Click here for enrollment dates.

SmartStart Infographic-01

Photo of Brittany Mejia
Brittany Mejia SmartStart Director
Work Phone: (213) 389-1148
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Photo of Nicole Pasten
Nicole Pasten SmartStart Elementary School Coordinator
Work Phone: (213) 389-1148
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Photo of Sindia Jara
Sindia Jara SmartStart Elementary School Teacher
Work Phone: (213) 389-1148
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New Year, New Collaborations at HOLA

With the winter quarter well under way, we’re pleased about the many fun and educational collaborations that have taken off at HOLA.  To celebrate all the love and support of our teachers, directors, staff, volunteers, students and families, we wanted to share with you what’s new in our cozy corner of the universe. Over in Athletics, some of our middle school girls have begun training to run a 5k with the help of nonprofit Girls on the Run. The program is designed to inspire girls to be joyful, […]

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 […]

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 […]

Goodbye Summer: Thank you for the best one yet!

Although the school year ended, HOLA’s campus kept everyone busy.  From sailing the high seas to learning about the environment through art, our students have kept active: thinking, experiencing, and growing – and of course having a blast while doing it! We were also delighted and grateful this summer to be joined by 10 Americorps VISTA volunteers, who were invaluable to our summer programming. When we asked the VISTA’s what they loved most about their summer at HOLA, they all spoke of the parallels they shared with the kids: new friendships and […]

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 […]


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