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Good Neighbors Campaign Kicks Off Oct. 18, Aims High

by Melissa Payton

Jay McAdams (in white suit), education director for the 24th Street Theatre, works with two actors and a student at Vermont Avenue Elementary School, a member of USC’s Family of Five Schools. The 24th Street Theatre has received four grants from the Good Neighbors Campaign to bolster its community outreach efforts.

Photo by Irene Fertik

Tickets for local families to attend 24th Street Theatre productions. Dental exams for Murchison Elementary students. A program that shows teachers how they can use local museums, zoos and nature centers to improve their science offerings.

These projects and 18 others are improving the health, safety, education and cultural offerings in the neighborhoods near USC’s two campuses. All were funded by $550,000 from the 1998 USC Good Neighbors Campaign.

THIS YEAR’S CAMPAIGN, running from Monday, Oct. 18, through Friday, Nov. 12, is aiming even higher: $600,000 in pledges from faculty and staff. Funds will be designated for USC Neighborhood Out reach, a nonprofit corporation founded in 1993 to support partnerships in nearby communities and United Way charities.

“Faculty and staff participation has grown steadily since the campaign began in 1994,” said Jane G. Pisano, senior vice president for external relations and campaign chair. “We expect this trend to continue in 1999, expanding the benefits reaped by USC and its partner community groups and improving the health and welfare of our neighbors.”

Since the first USC Good Neighbors Campaign, participation has risen from 25 percent of university employees to last year’s 39 percent. Now that USC has formalized a relationship with two public schools near its Health Sciences Campus – Bravo Medical Magnet High School and Murchison Elementary – the campaign expects HSC participation rates, in particular, to grow.

“We’re hoping that this new partnership will draw even more interest from HSC faculty and staff,” said Rose Washington, director of special projects for external relations.

Earlier this year, USC forged a formal relationship with the two East Los Angeles schools – a relationship that echoes the Family of Five Schools Initiative at the University Park Campus. The USC HSC Schools Partnership means that USC can deepen its existing involvement in the two schools – and Neighborhood Outreach programs are the primary conduit.

This year, students at the two schools are benefiting from five Neighborhood Outreach-funded programs:

• Choices Unlimited ($27,000), an expansion of an occupational therapy program at the Salesian Boys and Girls Club in Boyle Heights.

• The Dental Disease Prevention Program ($23,321), providing preventive dental care and health education at Murchison.

• COPA Liaison Services ($2,675), placing USC social work student interns in the schools to coordinate new USC programs.

• Lincoln Heights Achievement Project ($36,420), an after-school academic and cultural program.

• Reading Is Healthy ($23,190), a combined literacy and health-education project run by USC nursing students at Murchison.

SEVERAL EXISTING Neighborhood Outreach programs were also extended to the two schools.

The Family of Five Schools near the University Park Cam pus – Foshay Learning Center, 32nd Street/USC Magnet Center and Norwood Street, Vermont Avenue and Weemes elementary schools – have continued to benefit from Neighborhood Outreach projects.

Established Family of Five-Neighborhood Outreach projects include after-school, weekend and inter-session enrichment programs offering free courses in academics, arts and sports; Kid Watch, which organizes volunteers to watch over students traveling to and from school; and tutoring in math and reading by USC work-study students.

New programs in 1998 included Fellowships in Informal Science Education, to help teachers exploit the region’s museums, zoos, aquariums, nature centers and arboretums for science education; Kids at Fisher, an interdisciplinary art-education program; and Peace Trek L.A. and Music Mentors, a multicultural Saturday arts and education program.

Neighborhood Outreach continues to fund a graffiti-removal program, community programs at the 24th Street Theatre and the Web Masters/Info Masters program to train public school teachers in Internet and Web-authoring skills.

“USC and its community partners have received international recognition for these innovative and productive programs,” Pisano said, citing the recent Time/Princeton Review designation of USC as its “College of the Year 2000” for its effective neighborhood outreach.

“We will continue our efforts and expand them, not merely for such honors, but because we are improving our neighborhood while enhancing our sense of belonging in the community,” she said.

The annual USC Good Neighbors Leadership Dinner, for employees who contributed 1 percent or more of their salaries to the campaign in 1998, kicked off the 1999 campaign Sept. 21. The “one-percenters” – 307 USC employees who gave 51 percent of the total funds pledged last year – were thanked and urged to recruit others.

SINCE THE FIRST Good Neighbors fund-raising drive, faculty and staff have pledged more than $2 million toward nonprofit organizations. Last year, employees donated $456,000 to Neighborhood Outreach and $61,620 to United Way. The Neighborhood Outreach pledges were combined with $94,000 left from previous campaigns to fund the 21 USC-community partnership projects with grants ranging from $2,700 to $50,000 each.

Pledges to the campaign are tax-deductible. The easiest way to give is through a monthly payroll deduction, but one-time donations may be made in cash or by check. Employees may also contribute to United Way and other nonprofit organizations, using United Way as a processing agent.

Employees will receive information on how to contribute in 1999 through their department campaign leaders. Campaign leaders will have a new 12-minute videotape about Neighborhood Outreach efforts available for viewing.

For more information, contact Rose Washington at 740-7400.

Good Neighbors Campaign Kicks Off Oct. 18, Aims High

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