Nicholas Academic Centers
Nicholas Academic Centers (NAC) is a mentoring college access program for under-served first generation and low income students in Santa Ana, CA and neighboring Orange County communities. The program offers comprehensive services that includes individual academic guidance, academic tutoring, mentoring, college matching, college application support, therapeutic services, parental support, scholarships and continued mentoring support while scholars attend college. The Nicholas Academic Centers helps an average of 660 students annually and has graduated 728 students over the last nine years of service, of which 94% come from a Latino background. Currently, an average of 75% of alumni enroll directly into a four-year university and the rest enroll in two-year colleges. Our alumni attending four-year universities have a 93% retention rate and a six-year baccalaureate degree completion rate of 80%.The Nicholas Academic Centers was founded in 2008 by two visionary community leaders. Superior Court Judge Jack Mandel informally tutored students at the Santa Ana High School library during the 1990s, helping them graduate from high school and attend college. When news of Judge Mandel’s past philanthropic work with disadvantaged youth reached Dr. Henry T. Nicholas, III, Ph.D., co-founder and former Co-Chairman, President, and CEO of Broadcom Corporation, he connected with Judge Mandel and proposed that, together, they launch the Nicholas Academic Centers as part of a philanthropic network anchored by the Henry T. Nicholas, III Foundation. The first Nicholas Academic Center opened in downtown Santa Ana in January of 2008 and helped 24 students graduate high school and attend college. A year later, the foundation established a second facility, Nicholas Academic Center II, on the campus of Valley High School in Santa Ana. In 2016, the foundation partnered with the Santa Ana Unified School District to open a third center on the campus of Century High School in Santa Ana. The Henry T. Nicholas, III Foundation has donated over $14 million dollars over the last nine years to fund the centers’ operational costs, as well as students’ winter coats, dorm supplies and annual scholarships. The Nicholas Academic Centers is currently run by Executive Director, Rosa Diaz and Chief Financial Officer, Hugo Gutierrez; both are former students who were mentored by Judge Mandel at Santa Ana High School.