Contact: Bob Magnuson



The Department of Education Is Evaluating Performance, Growth Potential of the Innovative After-School Tutoring and Mentoring Program

Santa Ana, CA.—June 2—The University of California, Irvine Department of Education and the Nicholas Academic Centers announced today a research partnership to assess the performance and growth potential of the after-school tutoring and mentoring program for high school students in Santa Ana.

The Centers have had dramatic success in helping high school students gain acceptance from top four-year colleges, with nearly all students earning full scholarships.

The UCI researchers will help establish benchmarks for performance and metrics for tracking students after they leave the program, and recommend strategies to expand the reach and scope of the program.

“We are excited to work with one of the nation’s best universities to help determine how we can grow and increase our impact,” said Dr. Corina Espinoza, newly appointed assistant executive director of the Nicholas Academic Centers. “We have accomplished great results and now we want to accelerate our performance.”

The Nicholas Academic Centers serve hundreds of disadvantaged at-risk but high-potential students in the Santa Ana Unified School District 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 early 1990’s in an effort to fill an urgent need for after-school tutoring and mentoring in Santa Ana. In 2007, Judge Mandel partnered with Dr. Henry Nicholas, to create the Nicholas Academic Centers, which are funded by the Henry T. Nicholas, III Foundation. The first center was established in 2008 and a second center opened a year later.

“Our program up to now owes much of its success to the passionate commitment of our staff to nurturing mentorship,” said Dr. Nicholas. “Through the UCI partnership, we will bring to bear the scientific tools to both measure our performance and scale our success to a much greater level.”

Said Dr. Deborah Lowe Vandell, chair of the UCI Education Department:

“We are privileged to contribute to this innovative program to help promising inner-city students succeed. The Nicholas Academic Centers have a proven track record of success and our objective is to find ways to help them expand the their impact.”

UCI assistant professor of education, Dr. Estela Zarate, is leading the research project.

About UCI’s Education Department

The Department of Education at the University of California Irvine seeks to promote educational success and achievement of diverse learners of all ages through its collective research, teaching, and service activities that foster learning and development in school and out of school. Trained in psychology, sociology, economics, linguistics, and informatics, the faculty conducts cutting edge research aimed at addressing the core issues facing contemporary education. The Department offers both undergraduate and graduate programs, including an undergraduate minor in Educational Studies, a Certificate in After School Education (CASE), post-baccalaureate and Master degree programs leading to elementary and secondary California teaching credentials, and a Ph.D. in Education. Read more about the UC Irvine Department of Education

About the Nicholas Academic Centers

The Nicholas Academic Centers are directed by retired Superior Court Judge Jack Mandel and higher education expert, Dr. Corina Espinoza, 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.


Ashley Temm