The city of Santa Ana has awarded a Newport Coast resident with a key to the city for developing a tutoring and mentoring program for underserved students.
Broadcom co-founder Henry T. Nicholas III, 53, received the honor July 2, along with retired Orange County Superior Court Judge Jack K. Mandel, for creating the Nicholas Academic Centers, which serves Santa Ana and Valley high schools.
"I was honored to get this award, but it really should be going to the students, in my view," Nicholas said Thursday. "I may have created an opportunity for them and eliminated some of the barriers they have to deal with to succeed, but they have done all the hard work. I'm extremely proud of them."
Given at the mayor's discretion, a key to the city is considered the highest civic honor.
Renée Segerstrom, the late wife of South Coast Plaza's Henry Segerstrom, received the last one more than 10 years ago.
Santa Ana Mayor Miguel A. Pulido applauded the centers in a news release, saying they "are truly transformational, not only for Santa Ana's school system, but also for its students, their families and our entire community."
Based on a public-private partnership between the organization and the Santa Ana Unified School District, the centers provide students with outlets for social services, cultural enrichment programs, college connections and scholarship opportunities to help them beyond high school.
In a 2008 collaboration, Nicholas and Mandel, who had tutored and mentored students for years, funded the centers with $10 million from the Henry T. Nicholas, III Foundation, Nicholas' private financial institution.
According to Nicholas, the centers have helped more than 230 high school students graduate and pursue college. Since 2008, students have earned $2.7 million in scholarships and more than $600,000 in direct-gap financing provided by the foundation so families don't have to pay any educational expenses out of pocket.