It was about 14 years ago when Jack Mandel individually invited a group of twenty-something to his home in Fullerton. When budget cuts limited after-school hours for Santa Ana school libraries, Mandel, a longtime Orange County judge, figured out a way to keep the Santa Ana High School library open so students could study there under his mentorship and tutoring.
Diaz said she thought the requested visit to the Mandel home would be of the one-on-one variety.
Mandel told them he had met tech entrepreneur Henry T. Nicholas, III, who wanted to use his wealth to benefit even more students like those gathered, students with plentiful potential but a paucity of resources. Mandel and Nicholas were going to launch after-school educational enhancement programs for Santa Ana. And Mandel informed those invited to his home that day that they were going to help get it started.
Since then, the Nicholas Academic Centers have grown, now anchored by three physical locations in Santa Ana — at Century and Valley high schools and one in the downtown.
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He was born in in Erie, Pa. With his wife, Judy, Mandel settled in Fullerton. Jack and Judy both had two children from marriages. Mandel made an unsuccessful run for the California Assembly. He also had great impact as a philanthropist. Mandel established his law practice in Anaheim in the late s.
A couple of years later, Steven A. Silverstein set up his practice in the same building on Euclid Street. They became good friends, sharing breakfast most mornings, while often being rivals in the courtroom.
And I even voted against him! Mandel talked Silverstein into hiring a Santa Ana High student as a file clerk.
There would be more. Silverstein figured there had to be a better way to help the kids then just keeping libraries open and tutoring people.
Silverstein suggested to Mandel that he start a foundation, raise some money for it and get himself a tax deduction. Among them Nicholas, who with Henry Samueli founded the Broadcom Corporation that made both of them billionaires. Nicholas is an active philanthropist in Orange County, often supporting housing, veterans and arts groups. He always believed youth should be given a second chance. Diaz was a high-achieving student.
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