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Years ago, Superior Court Judge Jack K. Mandel learned that many students at a Santa Ana High School were studying outside on the pavement once classes were done for the day. The reason, he discovered, was because the school district could not afford to keep the library open; and, there was no place at home for the students to study. When the weather was bad, they had nowhere to go.
 
Concerned, Judge Mandel persuaded the then Santa Ana school superintendent to allow him to at least supervise students in the library of Santa Ana High School once he concluded his court cases at the end of his work day. Santa Ana High School is minutes away from the Orange County Courthouse.
Dr. Henry T. Nicholas III
 
Bolstered by this after-school mentoring, students flourished. However, many lacked the resources or support to attend college. Judge Mandel worked with students, guidance counselors, and colleges to get many of these deserving students into four-year colleges.
 
Upon learning of Judge Mandel's work, Dr. Henry T. Nicholas, III decided that these kinds of "incubator" programs could make the difference between success and failure for young people.
 
Dr. Nicholas partnered with Judge Mandel and launched the Nicholas Academic Centers, which are a part of a philanthropic network anchored by the Henry T. Nicholas, III Foundation.
 
Judge Jack K. Mandel, now retired from the bench, was named as the first Executive Director of the Education Foundation and charged with spearheading efforts to create these academic centers. Hugo Gutierrez, current Executive Director, Rosa E. Díaz, Director of Operations, and Rocío Chávez-Bonilla, former NAC  Social Services Director, were once students in the Santa Ana High School library studying with Judge Mandel.