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USC’s employee giving program funds 50 community partnerships

Teresa Laraby Teresa Lara
With the help of USC students from the Health Sciences Campus, elementary school children from the Family of Schools developed projects to compete in USC’s Health and Science Expo held in May. (USC Photo/Gus Ruelas)
Photo: With the help of USC students from the Health Sciences Campus, elementary school children from the Family of Schools developed projects to compete in USC’s Health and Science Expo held in May. (USC Photo/Gus Ruelas)

Neighborhood bike safety ambassadors in South Los Angeles; food justice advocacy training for youth at local community gardens; a fotonovela on breast cancer prevention and treatment; and science, technology, engineering and mathematics fairs for aspiring young scientists in East Los Angeles.

These are just a handful of the 50 university-community partnerships that were funded this year by the USC Good Neighbors Campaign (GNC), an annual fundraising initiative organized by Civic Engagement that directs staff and employee donations toward the communities surrounding the university campuses.

Since 1994, USC employees have contributed more than $16 million to the fundraising effort, which takes place each October at both the University Park and Health Sciences campuses. In all, GNC has funded nearly 500 community partnerships.

“The Good Neighbors Campaign is not only a wonderful source of pride for the thousands of faculty and staff who give to the campaign, [but] it is an opportunity to work together and have an impact in the larger community, and the world,” said Craig Keys, associate senior vice president for Civic Engagement. “We are leading up to an important 20th-year milestone of this philanthropic tradition, and we have full confidence in our Trojan Family that it will only continue to grow.”

More than 5,565 Trojan faculty and staff voluntarily contributed to the 2012-13 GNC drive, raising more than $1.6 million. The campaign in turn funded 50 community programs focused on enhancing educational opportunities, promoting good health and fitness, improving safety, and supporting job training and economic development.

“The number of GNC grant applications and new partnerships was very impressive,” said Carolina Castillo, executive director of development for Civic Engagement.

Among the many partnerships supported by the campaign, four programs were awarded “Signature status.”

“A GNC Signature program is a USC program that is guaranteed funding for three years. The goal is to support effective and sustainable programs,” Castillo explained. “This year’s signature programs are: Fit Families, Engineering for Health, NAI and Troy Camp.”

Other funded programs include:

Bicycle Education & Safety for the USC Neighborhoods and Community — The Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition and the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism will develop a neighborhood bike ambassadors program with several community-based bicycling groups, including Community Services Unlimited, East Side Riders, Los Ryderz and USC Bike Commuter. The program will also address local street-level support for projects such as bike lanes and boulevards, bike parking corrals, bike-friendly business districts, and family-oriented events for kids and families in the South LA area.

Community Youth Health, Education and Action Leaders — A partnership between Proyecto Jardín, a community garden behind White Memorial Medical Center, and the USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center, this apprenticeship program will provide local high school students the opportunity to make a mark in their community. Students will gain experience helping to transform the food environment in Boyle Heights through policy and system changes that support the development of a sustainable community food system.

A Fotonovela on Breast Cancer — To Help Everyone Clinic Inc. and the USC School of Pharmacy have teamed up to increase knowledge of breast cancer prevention and treatment among low-income, low-literacy Latino families in the neighborhoods surrounding the USC campuses. The target population will be reached through the distribution of a breast cancer fotonovela at safety-net clinics and local pharmacies where residents frequently shop. Trained community advocates, or promotoras, will also distribute the fotonovela in their communities.

HSC Health and Science Expo — USC students from the Health Sciences Campus will partner with Griffin, Murchison and Sheridan elementary schools to mentor aspiring fifth-graders who are interested in the sciences. Science curricula, health concepts and science fair competition entries will be presented at an all-day, family-oriented, community science fair in April 2014.

The largest grant of $80,000 was awarded to a long-standing GNC program, USC ReadersPlus, a literacy and math tutoring program administered by the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences’ Joint Educational Project.

“Supporting the GNC is a priority for the university, and furthermore also supports the broader fundraising campaign for USC,” said Kimberly Alexander, senior executive director of development for Civic Engagement. “Although a special fundraising drive in October launches the annual campaign, employees can make contributions at any time.”

See the complete list of grant recipients here

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