HOKALI: Successfully Transforming After-School Education in San Francisco, L.A., and Beyond

By David Thompson

Apr 22, 2024 03:54 AM EDT

Kevin Sorbo(HOKALI) (Credit: Getty Image)

"Every young person deserves a safe place to go after school, where they have opportunities to learn, be engaged with positive role models, and become more physically active," shares actor Kevin Sorbo. With 49.4 million school-age children, many of whom have two working parents, there is certainly a need for more after-school programming and extracurricular activities. Without it, most children will never be able to explore their true gifts and passions.

"Before I participated in these programs, I never had opportunities like these before. They have motivated me to take school seriously and gave me more confidence," adds Brandon Tibbs, an Afterschool Youth Ambassador, shared in Afternoon Snack. Even more importantly, after-school programs keep children safe. "...Access to after-school programs for all students is important; having something to go to after school can, in my case, keep children out of the streets," Tibbs adds.

While there is a lot of evidence supporting after-school programming and a number of funds set aside, like those from the American Rescue Plan, managing and finding instructors for rich and diverse after-school programming can be extremely difficult. HOKALI's co-founders, CTO Tomas Bisi, and CEO Ignacio Viau, have embarked on a mission to make it easier. "We have created a marketplace that, one, provides every child with the opportunity to explore their interests, discover their passions, and reach their potential. Two, we are supporting instructors in pursuing their passions and making a living doing what they love, and lastly, we are helping schools provide robust and elevated after-school programming, including STEM programming and sports programs with a powerful tool to manage it," shares Viau.

Prior to HOKALI entering the market, the process for finding, booking, and managing after-school instructors was 100% manual. On average, it takes one month for an after-school director to research, locate, and schedule instructors. With HOKALI, it takes minutes. The B2B Marketplace simplifies and speeds up the process by connecting after-school program coordinators and the many instructors who are utilizing HOKALI's platform to advertise, book, and manage their after-school offerings. 

Viau and Bisi were friends and sports coaches who saw a need to help connect instructors like themselves and parents who were looking for quality instructors to provide their children after school experiences. While they originally planned for it to be a B2C platform, after conducting market research and trying to procure interested parents through the school system, they quickly learned of a greater need, a need to help schools acquire quality after-school programming and help instructors build connections and bookings with the school.

Now a B2B model, HOKALI leverages their own software technology to streamline the process for school directors and instructors. In addition to their software, they have built the HOKALI academy that helps provide professional development opportunities for their instructors. 

Viau shares, "Our academy builds trust between our instructors and after-school directors. They know that the quality of instruction will be excellent and that the instructors will be trained and certified in classroom management." All of HOKALI's instructors must complete other certifications as well: child abuse prevention, concussion protocol, and CPR/first aid. Viau adds, "It is building trust with instructors as well. They are knocking on our doors asking if they can become an instructor for us."

A key differentiator in HOKALI's solution is instructors who are passionate and knowledgeable about what they are teaching. Viau explains, "After-school directors have remarked, 'Wow, your teachers are true professionals.' After-school programs are often led by classroom teachers with little interest in the subject; we are providing authentic instructors for each activity. Whether it's soccer or basketball, our instructors are genuine sports professionals, not individuals seeking extra income through part-time gigs. We have actors teaching acting, and scientists teaching STEM programming." HOKALI offers an impressively diverse range of offerings: robotics, arts, sports, music, science, debate, and beyond. 

The platform's ability to integrate scheduling and coordination features is also appealing to school directors, instructors and parents. Bisi explains, "With our platform, they can easily manage their after school and sports programming. They can find and schedule instructors. Instructors can manage their schedules as well, and parents can sign up their children. It also fosters seamless collaboration and communication among all parties."

Viau shares, "We are excited about the traction HOKALI has had." Nearly 4000 children have enrolled in their programs and extracurricular activities. They have booked over 300 programs across partnerships with over 85 schools. With almost 2000 lessons already delivered, their impact continues to grow. While they started in the San Francisco area, they quickly expanded to Los Angeles and, in a short time, onboarded 12 schools and 12 more committed. He adds, "It's a huge district. There are almost 5000 schools. We hope to get into many of them."

"We have nearly 400 academies and instructors from both San Francisco and Los Angeles." Bisi notes, "We are adding around 10 new instructors and academies to our roster each week."

LA and San Francisco won't be the only cities that will benefit from HOKALI. Viau and Bisi have plans to spread HOKALI far and wide as they continue to attract investors. "There are 130,000 schools across the US. The market is huge. We have approximately 85 so far, so we have a long way to go, and we are looking for the right partners to help us get there." The team will continue to target California this year and has set their sights on nationwide domination in the after-school programming space in 2025. 

HOKALI is streamlining after school programming, providing exceptional instruction, and ultimately, giving every child a safe place to go after school where they can explore their interests and discover their passions.

© 2024 VCPOST, All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.

Join the Conversation

Real Time Analytics