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USC Athletics receives $5 million gift from Booth Foundation

by Alexandra Bitterlin
The Booth gift will establish a community service coordinator position named for former Trojan quarterback Matt Barkley. (Photo/John McGillen)
The Booth gift will establish a community service coordinator position named for former Trojan quarterback Matt Barkley. (Photo/John McGillen)

The USC Athletic Department has received a $5 million gift from the Otis Booth Foundation to endow the department’s community service program.

The gift provides long-term funding for the program, which supports Trojan student-athletes’ volunteer efforts to engage and inspire elementary-age children in the neighborhoods surrounding USC.

In the last three years alone, USC’s 650-plus student-athletes have collectively completed more than 8,000 hours of community service, volunteering with a variety of organizations, including Marathon for Kids, Swim With Mike, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, South Central Community Center, Best Buddies and Skid Row homeless shelters, in addition to several elementary schools in South Central Los Angeles.

The community service program currently consists of special events led by student-athletes, such as the Community Bowl, which focuses on elementary school beautification, mural projects and classroom activities, and A Day in Troy, which brings children to campus for tours to encourage them to consider college and for sports activities to promote health and well-being. Last year, more than 5,000 children participated.

Another major program element is The SCORE Initiative (Servicing Community through Outreach, Recreation and Education). The initiative is comprised of “4 SCORE Quarters,” each focused on promoting a different area of personal well-being: the importance of education, healthy living and exercise, successful decision-making and involvement in one’s community. These programs enable student-athletes to incorporate their personal experiences as a team player and leverage the platform they have as role models, inspiring children to set and achieve personal goals.

“The SCORE Initiative reflects USC’s passionate investment in its surrounding communities, as well as the exceptional dedication of its student-athletes, who continue to serve as positive role models while helping children realize their own potential. I am grateful to the Otis Booth Foundation for its generosity and for recognizing the importance of the university’s long-standing commitment to our local neighborhoods,” USC President C. L. Max Nikias said.

The Otis Booth Community Service Endowment will also establish the Matt Barkley Community Service Coordinator, a full-time staff position that will manage, implement and grow the program for maximum impact. The position is named for the former Trojan quarterback to honor his history of philanthropic service, which included humanitarian trips to Haiti, Nigeria and South Africa, as well as participation in numerous locally based community programs.

“We are honored that the board of the Otis Booth Foundation thinks highly enough of the efforts of our student-athletes that they would endow our entire community service program,” said Athletics Director Pat Haden, holder of the Charles Griffin Cale Director of Athletics’ Chair at USC. “This gift will allow us to continue our work in our surrounding community while enriching not just our neighborhood, but our student-athletes as well. We get as much as we give.”

Said Palmer Murray, vice president and trustee of the Booth Foundation: “The Otis Booth Foundation is proud to support USC student-athletes in their efforts to mentor and engage elementary school children in their neighboring community. Illustrating the unique combination of outstanding academic and athletic achievement, we believe these student-athletes, serving as role models, can have a meaningful impact on the lives of many children.”

Barkley added: “I am honored that USC’s new community service coordinator position will carry my name. Community service and my faith are very important to me. As Trojan student-athletes, we are fortunate not only for the great opportunities we have at USC, but for the opportunities we have to help those less fortunate and to share with aspiring children our stories of effort, determination and perseverance on the field and in the classroom.”

The Booth endowment is part of USC Athletics’ $300 million fundraising drive called the Heritage Initiative, which was launched on Aug. 21, 2012, and is a component of the $6 billion Campaign for the University of Southern California.

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