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First-Generation Inner City Students Earn $500,000 in College Scholarships, Grants.

Nicholas Academic Centers Help 24 Santa Ana Students Excel Academically, Attend Top Colleges

SANTA ANA, Calif. -- The first graduating class at the Nicholas Academic Centers received more than $500,000 in scholarships and grants to attend highly-ranked colleges across the country, including UCLA, Allegheny College, Denison University, UC San Diego, UC Davis, and Cal State Fullerton. Nearly all 24 students are the first members in their families to attend college. This program is entirely funded by the Henry T. Nicholas, III Foundation.

The Nicholas Academic Centers are an after-school tutoring and mentoring program for disadvantaged at-risk but high-potential students in the Santa Ana Unified School District. This program serves hundreds of students on a daily basis throughout the school year and summer.

The Centers are based on a program started by Retired Superior Court Judge Jack Mandel in the late 1980's in an effort to fill an urgent need for after-school tutoring and mentoring in Santa Ana. In 2007, Judge Mandel partnered with Broadcom Corporation co-founder, Dr. Henry Nicholas, to create the Nicholas Academic Centers.

"It is our goal to provide the highest quality education possible to every young student and with the dedication and hard work demonstrated through Judge Jack Mandel and the Nicholas Academic Center staff, we are inching closer to that goal," said Dr. Nicholas, who created the Foundation in 2006. "These students have the drive and the smarts to succeed--we just gave them a chance."

Laura O'Campo, 18, began her first day at Allegheny College on August 27th. The fifth of eight children, O'Campo was raised by her single mother and is the first in her family to attend a four-year school. She received approximately $35,000 in scholarships and grants, including a $6,000 'gap' scholarship through the Foundation to cover the parents' expected contribution cost.

"I always wanted to attend college but I needed help getting on the right path," O'Campo said. "I didn't think I would go this far, but I'm actually doing it; I'm living my dream."

Other Nicholas Academic Center students include Julio Cruz, attending UCLA with a $100,000 scholarship for four years; Rocio Hurtada, an aspiring lawyer attending UC Davis with $20,000 in scholarships and grants; and Lisbeth Pedroza, attending Allegheny with $35,000 in scholarships and the first in her family to attend college.

"These exceptional students were limited because their home environment was not conducive to studying; with a little encouragement and support, they're accomplishing goals they could only dream of," said Judge Mandel, Executive Director of the Nicholas Academic Centers. "In a few years, I am certain we will establish ourselves among colleges as one of the leading sources in the country for generating educated students of diversity."

Nicholas Academic Center I, located two blocks from Santa Ana High School, opened in January 2008 with two of Judge Mandel's former students, Rosa E. Diaz and Rocio Chavez-Bonilla, as program directors. Following the first Center's success, Nicholas Academic Center II opened in January 2009 on Valley High School's campus.

Students receive help with homework and college applications, visit college campuses, take SAT prep courses, attend performances at the Orange County Performing Arts Center and explore extracurricular interests such as cooking and guitar lessons--all paid for by the Henry T. Nicholas Foundation.

The Nicholas Academic Centers have been praised by local government and school officials, including Santa Ana Unified Superintendent Jane Russo, for the positive impact they have on the local community. In the Santa Ana Unified School District, about 55 percent of students are English-language learners and 75 percent come from low-income families.

About the Nicholas Academic Centers

The Nicholas Academic Centers are run by retired Superior Court Judge Jack Mandel and funded by the Henry T. Nicholas, III Foundation. Located in downtown Santa Ana and on the campus of Valley High in Santa Ana, the Centers provide free tutoring and mentoring for students, as well as computers and a safe and comfortable place to study. Become a fan of the Nicholas Academic Centers on Facebook.

About the Henry T. Nicholas, III Foundation

The Henry T. Nicholas, III Foundation was established in 2006 with the goal of improving communities and individual lives through investment in Education, Youth Sports, Technology, Science, Medical Research, Victim's Rights and National Defense. The Foundation was created by Dr. Henry T. Nicholas, III, co-founder of Irvine, Calif.-based Broadcom Corporation. For more information on the Foundation visit

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Publication:Business Wire
Geographic Code:1U9CA
Date:Sep 14, 2009
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