Los Angeles, CA
Grant Cycle:
Type of Grant:
Education, Social Practice

Hollywood HEART’s mission is to combine the magic of media and performing arts with the joy of summer camp to give young people from underserved communities the opportunity to explore their creativity and share their unique voices.

Since 1995, Hollywood HEART has brought the creative disciplines of acting, filmmaking, writing, dance, culinary, fashion design, visual arts and music to thousands of youth from across Los Angeles County. Working with our deep roster of professional teaching artists, we help youth bring their creative visions to life as they develop character strengths, confidence and resiliency through purposeful engagement in the arts.

Our history dates to the summer of 1995, when the AIDS epidemic was at its height and children living with HIV were suffering from stigma and ostracism. A small group of Los Angeles residents, many in the film and TV business, came together to launch a summer camp program to offer these children the “best week of their lives.” Hosted in the beautiful Malibu hills, we welcomed 58 children, ages 5–12, to our very first summer camp session: seven fun-filled days of love, acceptance and support as they got to express their voices, tell their stories and nourish their souls.

During the following years, we added a unique year-round filmmaking program called The Movie Team and continued to run our annual summer camp: Camp Hollywood HEART, a week-long arts-focused program for teens and young adults, ages 15–20, impacted by HIV/AIDS. As the HIV epidemic thankfully decreased, Hollywood HEART expanded our programming to other vulnerable youth, including LGBTQ+ and those from historically marginalized communities. Since 2011, we also have offered year-round arts education workshops and programming in Los Angeles through partnerships with a variety of social service agencies and educational organizations.

The goals of our programs include:

• Foster opportunities for youth to engage in creative activities designed to develop and support self-esteem/confidence.
• Purposeful development and enhancement of resiliency and character strengths: grit, social intelligence, self-control, optimism, zest and curiosity.
• Enable students to participate in one primary arts discipline of their choice (including acting, creative writing, culinary arts, visual arts, music, filmmaking and fashion design), in addition to daily opportunities to engage in instruction and participation in a diverse array of additional arts disciplines with different teaching artists.
• Each arts education workshop area will focus on specific lesson plans that address collective goals regarding character strength development, engagement, and arts competency, as well as Hollywood HEART staff monitoring youths’ individual progress and needs and providing individualized support and goal-setting.

In response to the challenges of the COVID pandemic and ahead of our 30th anniversary, in the Winter of 2023 our Board of Directors and key stakeholders charted a renewed focus on the programs that had served us best. They unanimously agreed that Hollywood HEART’s unique strength is the unmistakable and magical Hollywood experience we create. Whether helping youth produce an original short movie or develop a highly choregraphed dance number, we infuse our teaching with the inspiration and creativity that Hollywood has invoked for 100 years – and as we did at our first camp.

To best serve our young campers and workshop participants, we are refocusing on what has always been our heart: intensive, creative and life-changing arts education filled with energy and community. This return to our roots will enable Hollywood HEART to harness our nearly three decades of expertise engaging working artists to teach their craft and running exciting, dynamic camps and programs that offer a magical Hollywood experience. It will allow us to have the greatest impact on the youth we serve – that same impact from our very first summer.