A History of HOLLA!
In May 2005, Leon Gatewood was startled to learn that only one in eight black boys in Anson County knew how to read.
“If only one in eight black boys are reading at grade level, something’s missing,” he said.
As a result, Gatewood started a nonprofit organization designed to help young people succeed. HOLLA!, which stands for Helping Our Loved ones Learn & Achieve, was created with a fairly simple goal – to improve achievement levels of our children in the county’s school system.
HOLLA! is working to persistently build a community network designed to produce motivated parents and children. “We are building a community where there are fewer reasons and/or excuses to fail,” Gatewood said.
Some of HOLLA!’s ongoing projects include:
- Children are joining HOLLA!’s after school tutoring classes. These classes include assistance with homework, tutoring in math and reading, and a nutritious snack!
- The HOLLA! Reading Room is bustling with eager students each Saturday morning who take advantage of the free reading classes. These classes include reading instruction, guest readers and a nutritious breakfast!
- Scores of children are taking advantage of The HOLLA! Let’s MOVE Fitness Center weekly. The Center offers free karate and tennis lessons for children ages 6-18, significantly increasing their hours of physical activity. This will decrease their chances of being obese and suffering from certain other physical ailments (e.g. diabetes, unhealthy cholesterol levels and high blood pressure).
- In 2014, the United States Tennis Association, National Junior Tennis and Learning and North Carolina Community After-school Programs selected HOLLA! as a pilot program for the ACE Curriculum with one of its missions being to close the achievement gap between various demographics.
- HOLLA! will soon open a Literacy House in Wadesboro, designed to bring reading and literacy to the local community, where at-risk kids live. he Literacy House will function much the same as the HOLLA! Center’s Reading Room, and will be stocked with Florita Bell Griffin’s Little Flower Literacy Project. Gatewood said he hopes to open similar Literacy Houses in Polkton, Lilesville and in other locations in Wadesboro.
HOLLA! Resource and Community Development Center
The nonprofit organization HOLLA! and the HOLLA! Center provide a variety of services and programs that aid in increasing the test scores for children so that they are better equipped to make positive contribution to the community and society.
The center will also have office space, meeting rooms and a multi-purpose room with the capability of hosting banquets and other social events, which will also provide us with revenue streams for sustainability. Additionally, the various programs we intend to offer the community will generate funds. It is also likely that our partners will play a vital role in moving forward.