Extending HOLA’s Reach Through Replication


Summer Programming at Leo Politi Elementary School

Every year, HOLA provides exceptional high quality programming to a diverse array of underserved students on our four-building campus in the Rampart District, and we’re immensely proud of our results.  Improved academic performance, higher graduation rates, and healthier behaviors among our students all indicate that we’re succeeding in our mission. But what would happen if we could take our HOLA model and replicate it outside of our campus into a new learning environment?  Not just one program or class, but the whole thing. Would we experience the same success? How could we ensure that we’re nurturing students in and out of the classroom without the prevailing culture and community of our main campus??

This summer, we decided to find out.

This summer, in partnership with the Youth Policy Institute (YPI) and the LA Promise Zone community, HOLA was able to offer free programming to a new group of kids at an additional space--Leo Politi Elementary School, located about a mile away from HOLA.

Collaborating with Leo Politi’s principal and staff, HOLA designed a comprehensive, fun-filled, six-week summer curriculum. It was designed for students ages eight to eleven, and it included daily academic support in math and language arts; enrichment activities in athletics, music, visual arts and scientific arts; and community building, leadership, and culture workshops. In other words, HOLA brought the essential ingredients of all our programs to the students at Leo Politi. We strove to replicate our nurturing environment for learning, one that would resonate with both students and staff.

A cornerstone of our success were the hours dedicated to a culture workshop. At HOLA we believe that understanding one’s culture and heritage is an important step to becoming self-aware. Often times, schools focus on academic learning as the sole resource for youth development, but HOLA aims to facilitate the development of a young person’s identity.

“I felt excited I learned new things every day. I felt excited to see what's new.”  - Leo Politi student during HOLA summer programming

The collaborative spirit between the staff at HOLA and Leo Politi also added to a successful child-centered learning model. Hired specifically as off-campus summer instructors, the new HOLA teachers were trained to know and understand the organization’s core values of respect, responsibility, support, and positive communication. These core values would then translate into their classroom and their work with Leo Politi staff, who then also embraced them.

And so, HOLA’s door opened wider this summer, to let in a group of wonderful new students and colleagues.  Armed with our lessons learned, HOLA intends to continue to explore how we can transition successful practices in our place-based work into a multi-site approach.  With support from the James Irvine Foundation, HOLA will formalize a replication model and plan this year, pushing ourselves to do what we can to meet the need for safe spaces, nurturing environments, and academic support that we continue to see among underserved youth in Los Angeles.  

September 6, 2018