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Disadvantaged high school students in the 59,000-student Santa Ana, Calif., school district have a new opportunity to realize their academic potential, thanks to a donation from a private foundation.
The Nicholas Academic Center, an after-school program that opened in the district in January, has been promised $500,000 a year, for a total of $10 million over the next 20 years, by the Henry T. Nicholas Education Foundation.
Located in the central business district of Santa Ana, the tutoring center serves an average of about 40 students a day. In addition to general tutoring for the classes students are taking and some emphasis on preparing for the high school exit exam, the program also provides transportation to and from the district’s nine high schools.
Private Help ‘Critical’
California spends about $500 million a year on after-school programs through the Proposition 49 initiative approved by voters in 2002. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, a Republican, spearheaded the initiative before he was elected. But only schools where at least half the students receive free or reduced-price lunches are eligible for those programs, and then only about 80 to 100 students per school are served.
Private funds “are always critical,” said Jennifer Peck, the executive director of the Bay Area Partnership for Children and Youth, because they help provide after-school programming to students not covered by state aid, and help improve the quality of existing programs. Her Oakland-based nonprofit group works to improve youth programs in low-income communities.
Mr. Nicholas, the philanthropist for whom the foundation and the after-school center are named, cofounded the Broadcom Corp. of Irvine, Calif., and served as the technology company’s president until 2003. His philanthropic work has also focused on criminal justice, particularly victims’ rights and maintaining California’s “three strikes” law, which makes someone convicted of three felonies liable for a life sentence in prison.
Working with retired Orange County Superior Court Judge Jack Mandel, who serves as the executive director of the foundation, and with the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles, Mr. Nicholas plans to open similar centers in San Juan Capistrano in Orange County, in the Echo Park neighborhood of Los Angeles, and eventually throughout the state.
Former students from Santa Ana High School whom Mr. Mandel mentored years ago in an after-school tutoring program are now helping to operate the Santa Ana center.
A version of this article appeared in the April 16, 2008 edition of Education Week as $10 Million Pledge Sparks California Tutoring Program