About DTS

Determined to Succeed is a Los Angeles-based educational nonprofit organization dedicated to providing an exceptional group of low socioeconomic students (all qualify for the federal free or reduced lunch program) with comprehensive year-round academic and enrichment support. Determined To Succeed follows teacher-nominated students through middle school, high school, and into college. Our program includes biweekly after-school tutoring and mentoring, weekend tutoring and writing workshops, college test prep, college counseling, and summer enrichment opportunities that are critical to keeping our students actively engaged during the summer months. The same experienced educators (staff) coordinate our students’ individualized programs and act as their mentor and advocate throughout the program (middle school, high school and college). We continue to provide ongoing personal mentoring and supplemental financial support throughout the college years to ensure that our students successfully graduate from college.


Co-founder Sara Hahn (in 2005) with Laura, one of her 5th grade students who inspired the program! Laura will attend Cal State Chico this fall 2012.

While teaching fifth grade at Brentwood Science Magnet Elementary School, Sara Hahn was inspired by the resilience, motivation, and hope for the future that she witnessed in her students–almost all of whom rode a bus for over two hours a day to avoid their neighborhood schools and receive a better education. Sara realized that if a passionate, caring educator supported the same group of students through middle and high school, the impact on them would be tremendous and life changing. She determined that this commitment would provide an optimal level of learning, giving deserving students the confidence and tools to go to college.

In 2005, Sara began working with a select group of her fifth-grade students as they transitioned into sixth grade, and with the generous support of actor/activist Hank Azaria, co-founded Determined to Succeed. Sara’s original group of students, the students who inspired the program, graduated from high school in spring (2012) and ALL have been accepted and are attending college this fall 2012! Thus, Determined To Succeed has achieved our Mission for the first time in our history, with a high school graduation rate and college enrollment rate of 100%! According to the California Department of Education, the 4-year high school graduation rate in the LAUSD has averaged 54% and only 63% of those high school graduates go on to college, 12% less then the state average. This first graduating class has set the bar very high for generations of Determined To Succeed students to come.

Our second group of students culminated from 8th grade from Paul Revere Middle School. They will enter Alexander Hamilton High School this fall (2012). Our third group of students will begin 7th grade at Palms Middle School this fall (2012). Determined To Succeed has established positive, sustainable, long-term relationships with Palms Middle School and Alexander Hamilton High School that will benefit our students and program for years to come.


  • Leadership and Community Service learning opportunities to instill in our students the impact they can have on their community
  • Mandatory bi-weekly after-school tutoring/mentoring sessions during the academic year that includes homework assistance and math and writing enrichment
  • Monthly Saturday writing workshops
  • SAT/ACT college test prep, college counseling and financial aid workshops
  • Shadowing and intern opportunities with professionals in the Los Angeles area to expose our students to potential career paths
  • Staff who advocate at school with teachers, counselors and administrators; staff also acts as a liaison between students’ families and their schools
  • Summer academic and enrichment programs specifically tailored to their needs and interests

“A child’s perception is everything. When a child believes that their teacher cares about them as a person, and cares about whether they are doing well, the child begins to believe that they can learn too, and they do. I am inspired by the work of Determined to Succeed.”

- Mary Beth Barry, Admissions Director, Brentwood Lower School


We continue to forge relationships with like-minded education non-profits that either extend our mission and/or help us enhance the services that we provide to our students.

Book Roots (www.facebook.com/bookroots) Founded by Nicole Adkins and Elizabeth Drag, Bookroots empowers underserved youth to build personal resiliency and become self-motivated learners through literature and arts-based enrichment programming. Nicole and Elizabeth have developed a 2 -week playwriting /performance workshop and a SLAM writing workshop that they facilitate for our students during the summer. The workshops culminate in the students performing their original writing pieces. It is a transformational experience for our students as they bond as a group, overcome their fear of performing and create original work.

College Match (www.collegematchla.org) Founded by Harley Frankel, College Match identifies low-income high school sophomores with strong academic records and provides each of them (on an individualized basis) with an intensive array of services comparable to what affluent students receive at elite private schools. These students and their families are receiving the counseling and support to make them competitive in the college application process. College Match offers an invaluable opportunity to a few of our qualified students.

The Posse Foundation (www.possefoundation.org) identifies public high school students with extraordinary academic and leadership potential who may be overlooked by traditional college selection processes. Posse’s college and university partners award Posse Scholars four-year, full-tuition leadership scholarships. We are proud to be a Posse Nominator for our students.

SoCalCAN (www.socalcollegeaccess.org) The mission of SoCal CAN is to cultivate and strengthen a network of professionals, programs, organizations, and institutions that, together, will increase the number of low-income students who access and complete a post-secondary education. Determined To Succeed is honored to be a member of this extensive group. It has given us unprecedented access to local non-profits whose mission, like ours, is to provide the resources for low-income students to go to college.

TEAM PRIME TIME (www.teamprimetime.org) Executive Director Peter Straus created TEAM PRIME TIME (TPT) in response to the critical need for after- school programming at LAUSD Middle Schools for at–risk children from low– income areas. The program combines academics, athletics, leadership training and the arts. Palms Middle School, the home of our middle school students is partnered with TEAM PRIME TIME. We encourage our students to participate in the TPT program in conjunction with our Monday & Wednesday afterschool sessions.

UniCamp (www.unicamp.org) We are very excited that our high school students will be attending these phenomenal camps this summer. It is an overnight camp created to give low-income kids the camping experience of a lifetime in the mountains near Big Bear. The counselors are either current UCLA students or graduates trained to work with these kids. For most of our students, this will be the first time they are sleeping away from home!

In addition, we continue to seek relationships with companies that believe in our mission and our students and are eager to provide their valuable services to our students on a pro-bono basis.

Loyola Mary­mount University (graduate.lmu.edu) Dr. Brian Leung is the Chair of the Department of Educational Support Services and Director of the School Psychology Program. Dr. Leung and several of his Graduate students have collaborated with us in several ways – one of which was to develop a CA standards-based Writing Curriculum for our middle school students. The writing curriculum is incorporated into our weekend writing workshops. Dr. Leung also turned his students loose in his grant-writing class to focus on a DTS project related grants list!

MATHNASIUM (www.mathnasium.com/santamonica) As a teacher-trainer and consultant in public and top private schools, and father to a mathematically gifted son, Larry Martinek possessed an incredibly comprehensive view of education. The hallmark of the Mathnasium program he created has been the way it engages kids and gets them to know math at a level far beyond adult expectations. Larry and his Mathnasium co-founders, David Ullendorf and Peter Markovitz along with Santa Monica franchisee owner Reha Modi have helped us incorporate their curriculum into our after-school and summer sessions. Their ongoing support is a crucial component to bolstering our student’s foundation and capabilities in math.

Revolution Prep (www.revolutionprep.com) is a leading test prep company based in Los Angeles whose co-founder, Jake Neuberg, has taken Determined to Succeed under his wing. Revolution Prep’s SAT/ACT prep and subject tutoring was an enormous factor in successfully preparing our high school students to graduate and gain admission to college. Comprehensive college test prep is crucial for providing the tools that our students need to navigate these rigorous tests.

Team Tutors (www.teamtutors.com) provides our students with one-on-one tutoring. The tutors have been extremely effective tutoring our high school students in their honors and AP classes. Founder Nathalie Kunin and her partner Carrie Lieberman have been incredibly generous by providing our students with their first-rate tutors.

P.O Box 5363 Santa Monica, Ca 90409 - Phone: 310-452-7295 (O) - 310-452-7313 (F) - Copyright © 2013 Determined To Succeed.