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UC Irvine Department of Education partners with Nicholas Academic Centers

Effort aims to research, expand organization's after-school tutoring and mentoring program.

By Ashly McGlonePublished: June 02, 2010 02:41 PM

The UC Irvine Department of Education and the Nicholas Academic Centers have entered into a research partnership aimed at expanding the organization's after-school tutoring and mentoring program.

The effort is a result of the Nicholas Academic Centers' recent success in helping boost the acceptance rate among high schoolers: Nearly all students earned full scholarships to four-year colleges, according to a statement from the organization.

 Led by UCI assistant professor of education Estela Zarate, Ph.D., a team of researchers will assess the performance and growth potential of the program, establishing benchmarks and other measures for tracking individuals after they leave the program. Researchers will also provide recommendations to increase the reach of the Nicholas Academic Centers.

"We are privileged to contribute to this innovative program to help promising inner-city students succeed," said Deborah Lowe Vandell, Ph.D., chairwoman of the UCI Education Department. "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.”

Tutoring, mentoring, computers and a “safe and comfortable” study space are provided free of charge to hundreds of at-risk but top-performing high school students in the Santa Ana Unified School District.

The Nicholas Academic Centers' roots date back to a program started by Retired Superior Court Judge Jack Mandel in the early 1990s. Mandel partnered with Broadcom co-founder Henry Nicholas, Ph. D., in 2007 to create the facilities, which were opened in Santa Ana in 2008 and 2009, respectively. One center is located in the downtown area of the city, while the other is on Valley High School’s campus.

“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 Corina Espinoza, Ph.D., newly appointed assistant executive director of the centers. “We have accomplished great results and now we want to accelerate our performance.”

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