Good Neighbors campaign gears up for 1996 fund drive
If you’re concerned about the quality of life in the university’s surrounding areas , USC Neighborhood Outreach is asking for your help.
From Oct. 30 to Nov. 17, the USC Good Neighbors Campaign will raise funds to support USC/community partnerships that have a positive, visible effect on the immediate neighborhoods surrounding the two campuses.
Through the USC Good Neighbors Campaign, university faculty and staff can contribute to Neighborhood Outreach – a nonprofit corporation established in 1993 to support projects and programs vital to the success of USC’s neighborhood initiatives.
In a letter that will accompany employee paychecks this week, president Steven B. Sample and campaign chair Jane Pisano are appealing to all employees to support the effort. “We hope you will give to USC Neighborhood Outreach so we can continue to enhance the quality of life in the neighborhoods surrounding our University Park and Health Science campuses,” they wrote.
Last year, some 2,100 employees pledged more than $300,000 to the USC Good Neighbors Campaign. Of that sum, $200,000 was earmarked for Neighborhood Outreach and resulted in funding for nine USC-community public service partnerships. The projects – currently in various stages of implementation – received grants ranging from $4,700 to $27,000.
“The men and women who work at USC have always had a commitment to the neighborhoods surrounding our two campuses,” Sample said. “But in recent years, they have chosen in greater numbers to become true partners with our neighbors – by investing in community partnerships that make a real difference in the lives of local families and businesses. It’s this notion of partnership with our neighbors that makes the USC Good Neighbors Campaign so unique and so worthy of full university participation.”
Pledges to Neighborhood Outreach will also count as a gift to the university’s Building on Excellence Campaign, which seeks to raise $1 billion by 2000. Employees may also choose to make a gift to the United Way or another nonprofit organization through the United Way as part of the campaign.
Because the university covers all expenses associated with administering Neighborhood Outreach, 100 percent of gifts go to fund community programs and projects. By comparison, gifts to United Way are “taxed” by that agency at a rate of 19 percent to cover campaign expenses, fund distribution costs and overhead. For those who target other charities through United Way, contributions are “taxed” at 9 percent to cover processing. To target a gift, employees must give a minimum of $24 and complete a United Way designation form.u0000
Each school and department has set a goal of 100 percent participation and may also choose to set a dollar goal, according to Pisano.
“As the largest private employer in the city of Los Angeles, we have an opportunity – through sheer number of donors – to make a dramatic impact on the quality of life in the neighborhoods where we live and work,” Pisano said.
Faculty and staff are encouraged to give to the USC Good Neighbors Campaign through payroll deductions. They may pledge a percentage of their salary or designate a specific dollar amount. Pledges will be automatically deducted each month. Those who wish to make a one-time donation can write a check either directly to Neighborhood Outreach or to United Way. All donors who pledge 1 percent or more of their monthly salary to the USC Good Neighbors Campaign become members of the President’s Leadership Circle, a group of faculty and staff who are committed to making a difference in the immediate neighborhoods.u0000
The USC Good Neighbors Campaign was devised to provide an alternative to the annual United Way campaign. Its aim is to funnel gifts directly to programs that will impact local neighborhoods. Neighborhood Outreach efforts consist of partnerships between USC programs – initiated by faculty, staff and students – and community-based organizations such as schools, police agencies, nonprofit housing development programs, business development organizations and health clinics.
In keeping with USC’s Strategic Plan, Neighborhood Outreach provides “greater coherence, visibility and coordination to some of the university’s new and existing efforts,” Pisano said.
Neighborhood Outreach has established four funding priorities, all of which pertain to USC’s immediate neighborhoods:
- providing special educational, cultural and developmental opportunities for children and families;
- working with local residents, government officials and police to keep the streets safe;
- enabling more USC employees to own and occupy housing in the immediate vicinity of USC’s campuses; and
- encouraging more entrepreneurs, especially minority entrepreneurs, to establish and expand businesses in the vicinity.
The Neighborhood Outreach funds are disbursed through grants allocated by a committee of faculty and staff. The committee will request proposals from USC academic units and outreach programs in January. According to the campaign brochure, successful proposals must demonstrate community impact, cost effectiveness, volunteer involvement and measurable progress toward achieving one or more of the university’s community objectives.
Last year, the majority of grants went to programs that emphasized enhancing education and the quality of life for school children (see sidebar below). In 1996, the committee may choose programs that focus on other funding priorities – such as safe streets, housing and economic development, according to Rose Washington, special projects director in the Office of External Relations and the primary staff person overseeing Neighborhood Outreach and the USC Good Neighbors campaign.u0000
Training sessions were held last week to prepare more than 50 campaign leaders and 100 volunteers on the University Park and Health Sciences campuses as liaisons for their respective academic and administrative units. They are responsible for personally soliciting support from fellow employees.
Washington said this year’s drive will focus strictly on one-on-one efforts. A focus group conducted last year by students in the Annenberg School for Communication found that employees did not pay attention to such fanfare as flags, banners and balloons.
“We found that the one-on-one approach is the only one that is going to work,” Washington said.
To help campaign leaders make their case, a School of Cinema-Television class has developed a special Neighborhood Outreach video. The 15-minute video, which is available through the Office of External Relations, features interviews with university and community representatives. It focuses on four initiatives that exemplify the kinds of programs Neighborhood Outreach funds – including a partnership with Habitat for Humanity and the USC STAR Program, both of which received grants last spring. The video also describes the Neighborhood Academic Initiative and the Business Expansion Network.u0000