Newport Beach philanthropists Susan and Henry Samueli have a long history of supporting nonprofit organizations in Orange County through their Samueli Foundation.
As the co-founder of Broadcom Corporation, Henry has used his business acumen to endow the Samueli Foundation so he and Susan can fund local initiatives that fuel their passions.
The philosophy behind the Samueli Foundation is “the belief that our grants should help to improve the quality of life for all. Our strategy has been one of thoughtful investment; we are pro-active in seeking out agencies that exemplify qualities of creativity, sustainability and entrepreneurial vision. We provide funding as an investment in the ideas of an agency and its leadership, and we fully expect a return on that investment in the form of positive results toward our goal of a vibrant, healthy and well-balanced community.”
One of those investments has been the Samueli Academy, part of the Orangewood Foundation. According to information provided by the Orangewood Foundation, The Academy is a public 7th-12th grade charter school in Orange County that serves foster and community youth, especially those who can benefit from the school’s hands-on, project-based learning approach.
Samueli Academy welcomed its first class of 120 freshmen in August 2013 and continues to grow each year. In the fall of 2021, Samueli Academy reached capacity with a total of 775 students in grades 7-12.
According to the Samueli Academy website, the idea for Samueli Academy started 20 years ago with Susan Samueli and Sandi Jackson (another local philanthropist) and members of the board of directors of Orangewood Foundation. Susan and Sandi were concerned about the low high school graduation rates among teens in Orange County, including foster care teens served by Orangewood. They decided to explore new educational opportunities for local high school students and research best practices around the country.
They rallied like-minded individuals and organizations from philanthropy, business, education and child advocacy to join their efforts.
Now, Orangewood Foundation has announced the culmination of a 10-year, multi-phase capital campaign to fulfill the nonprofit’s long-term vision for Samueli Academy. After raising a total of $72 million through four innovative campaigns, the school also celebrates the completion of construction on its 7.1-acre campus in Santa Ana that includes state-of-the-art academic buildings and on-campus housing for youth in foster care.
Today, Samueli Academy is an award-winning school with a gymnasium and a multifunctional innovation center that houses support offices for foster youth, a student union, design studio, engineering lab, and a college and career center. Beyond the classroom, after-school enrichment programs include an array of seasonal sports, performing arts, and student-led organizations that teach lifelong skills like leadership, social responsibility, and collaboration.
“The school has exceeded all of my expectations,” said Susan Samueli. “We are seeing students who had no vision of going on to post-secondary education when they first came to Samueli Academy go on to outstanding colleges and universities. They have attended and graduated from the Naval Academy, Carnegie Mellon, Worchester Polytechnic Institute, USC, UCLA, Cal Berkley, and so many more prestigious universities all over the country. We are so proud of them and the work our faculty is doing to level the educational playing field for all of our students.”