Santa Clarita resident awarded prestigious leadership recognition

Tony Brown, executive director of Heart of Los Angeles (HOLA). Courtesy of HOLA

Tony Brown, executive director of Heart of Los Angeles (HOLA), was awarded a $200,000 James Irvine Foundation Leadership Award grant for “inspiring youth achievement through after-school programming” by the organization Thursday.

The Santa Clarita resident was one of six Californians recognized by the James Irvine Foundation for their work to create innovative solutions to problems facing the state of California.

Brown was awarded for his efforts and leadership with HOLA, a nonprofit afterschool program which provides educational, artistic, athletic and academic opportunities to 2,300 children each year.

In 2007 Brown became the executive director of HOLA which works to “enrich the lives of young people ages 6-24 by providing quality academic, arts and athletics programs,” according to its website.

HOLA partners with organizations and companies like the Los Angeles Lakers for a monthly basketball clinic and the Los Angeles Philharmonic as a site for the Youth Orchestra LA (YOLA).

The nonprofit’s facilities house three art studios, a fine art library, music rooms, a dance studio, a turf soccer field, outdoor basketball courts, a full-sized gym, classrooms and offices to better serve the area’s youth.

According to officials with HOLA, the grant money will support the efforts of the organization to provide more opportunities for HOLA’s participants, 97 percent of whom live in poverty.

“We find that if you challenge kids and provide them structure and rigor, they respond with the results we all want to see,” Brown said in a press release.

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