Issue: Fall 2013

Serving Hollywood's Children

Making a Difference in What They Do

While in some cultures it takes a village to raise a child, in Hollywood, one of the most diverse places on earth, it takes a commitment to help kids maneuver the challenges they face in an intense urban environment.  Our “immigrants” come from near and far, from south of the border, from Armenia and beyond; nearly 60 languages are spoken.  The cultures represented challenge and enrich the entire community of Hollywood.  We’re fortunate to have such entities to assist our youth as they move into adulthood.  For only one thing is certain, they do need and deserve all the help we can provide. Kids don’t wait; in the blink of an eye they will be launched into the world, ready or not. 


For most of the world, Hollywood is a legendary city of dreams that conjures up images of celebrities, wealth and glamour. Unfortunately, many children who live here know an entirely different Hollywood, with many growing up in unsafe, impoverished neighborhoods surrounded by gangs, drugs, violence, and other crime. LAPD Hollywood’s Gang Unit reports that there are at least 23 known active gangs, tagger (graffiti) crews, and party crews in Hollywood, with dangerous groups trolling local schools and playgrounds for new recruits.

The following non-profit organizations rely on support from the community to do their work. 

The Boys Club of Hollywood became a reality in June 1937 in two rooms above a garage on DeLongpre Avenue in Hollywood. In 1986 it became the Boys and Girls Club and in 1994 they moved into a new facility on Willoughby generously donated by the Petersen Family. Today the Club serves 1400 young people each year concentrating on education and lifestyle choices.  They offer homework assistance, college preparation, leadership skills and encourage healthy living through physical education and awareness of good food choices.  Programs are offered for kids ages from 6- 18. Dues are $30 a year and no youngster is ever turned away.

In the 90s, the Hollywood Arts Council created Project SOAR (Students Overcoming All Risks) to provide after school art programs for at risk youngsters in area elementary schools.  Conducted at six schools, the four session workshops provide arts workshops for to explore their creativity and talent.  Classes in ceramics, theatre, painting and drawing and multimedia and cultural crafts are offered and taught by professional artists.

With a mission to promote, nurture and support the arts of Hollywood, the Hollywood Arts Council was originally established to address the role of the arts in community revitalization.  Always advocating for arts in education, the sad reality was that the arts were the first thing cut at budget time and little or no arts are available to children for whom arts activities can inspire and motivate.  Each August the Council also presents its annual Children’s Festival of the Arts, a full day of performances and art making, held at Paramount Pictures as a celebration of art, community and the family.

Serving middle and high schools, the L.A.C.E.R. AfterSchool Program provides free educational opportunities increasingly unavailable during the regular school day. By giving young people the opportunity to improve their skills and develop new ones in a safe, supportive setting, L.A.C.E.R. fosters scholastic achievement, self-confidence and good citizenship. 


The need for after-school programs such as L.A.C.E.R. is tremendous, as dropout rates throughout the region are at unacceptably high levels, especially among low-income youth.  Because of budget cuts, schools have increased class sizes and eliminated many of the recreation and art activates that help keep students engaged at school. L.A.C.E.R. provides afterschool homework assistance; intensive reading and math tutorial programs, computer classes and library fieldwork to help failing students raise their grades. The performing arts programs they offer are exceptional and life altering. 

The Hollywood Police Activities League (PAL) chapter, formed in 1996, offers a highly-regarded martial arts program, soccer, marathon-training, hiking, dance and other fitness activities, its Junior Police Academy (an introduction to the different responsibilities of a police officer), the Youth Leadership Council (student-led community volunteer work), and the PAL College Scholarship Program (partial college scholarships), as well as monthly special activities and field trips.  It serves more than 425 at-risk youth ages 6-17 annually, offering programs six days per week throughout the year.

The Hollywood PAL program provides a means for youth in at-risk areas to participate in after-school activities that keep them off the streets. PAL is not just any program offering after-school activities. What makes PAL unique is the interaction between police officers and the children in the program, their families, and the greater community.  These interactions cement a bond between law enforcement and the community that is imperative in establishing a trusting relationship between both sectors.

Rounding out the list of organizations committed to a better community is the Hollywood/Los Angeles Beautification Team.  A grass roots movement formed in 1992 to address issues of trash and graffiti, they made their mark in 1994 stepping up to get Hollywood back in shape after the Northridge Earthquake.  Its mission is to improve the quality of life in Los Angeles by empowering citizens to change their environments for the better. 

For two decades, guided by a fundamental belief in the power of community partnership, HLABT helps by planting trees, designing and implementing resource conservation projects, and improving school campuses, neighborhoods and business districts.

Through these projects and community participation, it provides educational workshops and vocational training to at-risk youth and young adults, Each year it plants more than 2,000 trees, abates 2 million square feet of graffiti, and removes over 30 tons of trash from urban streets improving and enhancing the city neighborhood by neighborhood.

In the past 20 years, HLABT has adopted over 110 public schools, hired 2,500 youth and completed 250 mural walls, transforming campuses and neighborhoods throughout the region. It also provides environmental and arts mentoring to more than 27,000 school children, inspiring many of them with a conservation ethic and increased civic pride.

Each of these organizations depends on contributions of time and money.  They have made an enormous difference in the lives of the youth in our community and each has made Hollywood a better place. DH

• L.A.C.E.R. After-School Programs, 1277 N. Wilcox Ave., Suite 2, Hollywood 323 957 6481

• Hollywood Boys & Girls Club, 850 N. Cahuenga Blvd., Hollywood 323-467-2007

• Hollywood Arts Council, 6671 Sunset Blvd., Hollywood 323-462-2355

• Hollywood PAL, 1358 N. Wilcox Ave., Hollywood 90028 213 847 4382

• Hollywood/Los Angeles Beautification Team, 1737 North Cherokee. (323)-962-2163.