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Elementary Schools

HOLA program offers youngsters a 'Bridge' to middle school

Gathered around a rectangular table one recent morning, 11-year-olds Anahi Bailon, Jasmine Martinez and Rolland Pascual and 10-year-old Roselin Villa groan in unison over the same topic: moving up into middle school.

"It's a new change. In elementary, your parents sign you in, they go to the meetings for you," Jasmine said. "But now that you're in middle school, you have to sign yourself in and be responsible for the meetings. It's learning to be responsible."

Helping kids make that transition is one goal of Heart of Los Angeles. Founded in 1989, HOLA offers free after-school programming for more than 2,400 youths 6 and older in facilities around...