LA2050 Grants Challenge applications are open now through June 28th, 2024.
2023 Grants Challenge

College & Career Success for BIPOC Youth

Heart of Los Angeles removes barriers to educational success. A pillar of our work is a robust and holistic College & Career Success Program including intensive mentorship, individualized academic and college access support, career readiness, and meaningful direct aid that represent a long-term investment in every individual student's success. CCS is a model program that can be applied in organizations across LA County, building pathways to careers and solving for income inequality that creates a ripple effect that can uplift whole communities.


What is the primary issue area that your application will impact?

Income Inequality

In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?

Central LA

South LA

In what stage of innovation is this project, program, or initiative?

Expand existing project, program, or initiative

What is your understanding of the issue that you are seeking to address?

Lack of access to equitable educational resources is a clear and systemic driver of income inequality, one that perpetuates itself. Differences in educational attainment among groups based on race and socioeconomic status-the opportunity gap-is an unfortunate hallmark of education in the U.S., and Los Angeles is no exception. LA's opportunity gap is concentrated in communities of low-income, BIPOC youth like those Heart of Los Angeles (HOLA) serves. With this in mind, HOLA exists to eliminate barriers to education, focusing on getting kids to and through post-secondary opportunities. Nearly all HOLA students are first generation college students, or even the very first in their families to attend. Time and again, studies have shown that access to higher education is key to increasing income potential and breaking generational cycles of poverty. Research also shows that for first generation students, lack of financial aid remains one of the largest barriers to high education attainment.

Describe the project, program, or initiative this grant will support to address the issue.

HOLA's College and Career Success Program (CCS) is a capstone program that both builds on a robust and uniquely holistic approach to expanded learning that begins as early as 1st grade, and offers entry points to additional students from under-resourced high schools in 11th and 12th grade. Through year-long one-on-one mentorship, individualized academic intervention, college visits, career readiness conferences, financial literacy, and more, CCS empowers students to graduate from high school, enter college or another postsecondary pathway, obtain a degree, and build a degree-aligned career in a broad spectrum of fields. Moreover, CCS provides gap-filling, multi-year direct scholarship aid that allows students to select colleges based on fit rather than price tag, and helps ensure they are able to stay in school year over year. This year, our work will take another leap forward with the launch of HOLA's Heart of a Mentor Program, a networking platform and program that will connect alumni to established professionals from our extended network of supporters and donors. HOLA's long-term investment in each student means supporting educational success and building pathways to careers that promote upward economic mobility and change the course of young Angelenos' lives. By combatting income inequity for these individuals, HOLA believes that whole families and communities can be uplifted.

Describe how Los Angeles County will be different if your work is successful.

We know that individual student success doesn't only change one life, but has a ripple effect across whole communities. Within HOLA's walls, first generation college students attain degrees, become architects, lawyers, teachers, policy makers, and come back to bring new youth through our doors, mentor the next generation, and support HOLA's strategic growth so we can deliver our robust services across LA County. HOLA recently grew to serve 1,000 new youth across South Central and Watts, and our vision is to scale CCS to impact each of these students in the coming years. HOLA has developed an intensive college access and career readiness curriculum that can serve as a model program to be replicated across all underserved LA communities. Through this work, all youth can acquire the tools to achieve their visions of success including fulfilling, lucrative jobs and decreasing income inequality for themselves and their families.

What evidence do you have that this project, program, or initiative is or will be successful, and how will you define and measure success?

HOLA's CCS program model has resulted in remarkable outcomes. Since 2009, HOLA has seen an accumulative 99% high school graduation rate and a 95% high school to college matriculation rate. This year, 100% of high school students graduated and all but one (who elected to serve in the US Armed Forces) of HOLA's graduating seniors will be attending postsecondary institutions next year, an accomplishment made extra meaningful given the challenges Los Angeles youth faced during the Covid-19 crisis. HOLA has awarded more than $6.7 million in higher education scholarships to HOLA youth including nearly $1.2 million this year, direct aid that we know is critical to students' ability to matriculate through college. In addition, as HOLA continues to build out more and more robust career readiness resources, last year, 100% of high school students participated in career pathways programming and are making progress towards their academic and career goals.

Approximately how many people will be impacted by this project, program, or initiative?

Direct Impact: 300

Indirect Impact: 1,200