The United Way of Greater Los Angeles named Variety Boys and Girls Club in Boyle Heights as this year's outstanding youth agency.
The award recognizes the club's programs in education, recreation and sports and is given annually to a United Way agency.
"They saw that this is not the regular Boys and Girls Club but really a club where we focus on education and the importance of it," said Baltazar Perez, who serves as the club's executive director.
The club, at 2530 Cincinnati St., serves 3,500 to 4,000 7- to 17-year-olds with its computer learning center, an after-school study hall with one-on-one tutoring, annual scholarships of $2,000 to $10,000, arts and crafts and gym.
"Variety has been in the Boyle Heights community for years and we wanted to recognize that history in serving the community," said Charlotte Torres, director of planning and agency relations of the metropolitan region of the local United Way.
The staff of five full- and 10 part-time people also instituted a "Pride in Our Community" trash and graffiti removal program last summer.
"The first day, 25 parents showed up with hoes and rakes and 60 kids showed up," Perez said of the monthly neighborhood cleanups.
"To this point, we haven't had any major graffiti and nobody has broken the fences like they did before.
"We want to let the gangs know this is a neutral place," he said.
"Our ultimate goal is to erase the boundaries here."